Lizzie Grant needs a vacation. The singer-songwriter has produced a steady stream of new material since she premiered her pop chanteuse alter ego, Lana Del Rey, on YouTube way back in 2011. Before her 2012 album Born to Die even had a chance to cool, she’d already dropped a companion EP (Paradise), a string of soundtrack cuts (“Once Upon a Dream” from the upcoming Disney flick Maleficient being the most recent), and a short film (Tropico). Last week, “Meet Me in the Pale Moonlight,” a surprisingly discofied cut, leaked onto the Internet, and while Del Rey dismissed it as an old song written for another artist, the blogosphere’s ravenous response points to an audience that isn’t just eagerly anticipating the singer’s new single, but expecting the unexpected.
Well, she hasn’t gone EDM, and she isn’t dabbling in dubstep, as some cheeky fan rumors suggested, but “West Coast,” the lead single from Del Rey’s sophomore effort, Ultraviolence, is indeed a departure. Aside from a brief reference to a Parliament cigarette on fire, the sun-kissed cover art is a stark contrast to the edgy billboards for the album that popped up in New York and California last week, and the song, produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, is likewise warmer and rootsier than Del Rey’s previous, more baroque-pop confections. Auerbach dots the bluesy “West Coast” with spaghetti-western guitar flourishes and deft shifts in time signature, mirroring the singer’s internal tug of war. The moody track finds Del Rey, who delivers her lyrics in a series of staccato coos, leaving her man to find fame and fortune in the City of Angels, but of course, she fails spectacularly and exquisitely, torn between love and the “silver starlight” of Hollywood.
Del Rey kicks off a North American tour on April 24th.