lana del rey’s short career has been colorful, marked by initial musical rejection, a less-than-stellar live television debut, and a general divisiveness that surrounds her output to date. it’s the last of these hiccups that continues to carry some relevance; del rey’s 2012 debut born to die had promises of brilliance but failed to fully deliver, although her follow-up ep, paradise, felt a bit more promising. where she immediately excelled, however, was in her frighteningly confident command of image and persona. her transition from the underwhelming lizzy grant to the captivating lana del rey was marked by idealized opulence and an embodiment of mid-century american nostalgia, further underscored by the cinematic tendencies of her music.
last month, del rey released “west coast,” the first single from her upcoming sophomore album ultraviolence. its arrival coincided with her appearances at coachella, and the song’s structure marked a possibly definitive moment in her career. quite simply, “west coast” is one of the better pop songs to see the light of day so far in 2014, with ambitious tempo and mood shifts that completely sell the abruptly eerie nature of the chorus. the single initially had a short, looped video clip to accompany the audio posted to lana del rey’s youtube account, but today she shared the complete version of the music video. the black and white beach clip fits into a grander plot scheme consistent with all of the common del rey tropes: cigarettes, drugs, luxury cars, and sex, but the video eventually culminates in a rather fiery manner, contrasting the understated visuals presented beforehand. there’s still a lot to unpack from “west coast” – including the possibility that it may be another “video games” instance – but revel in its music video for now.