It's almost too easy to describe Lana Del Rey's music as sensual. Her smoky declaration "you fit me better than my favorite sweater" over the rippling guitars of "Blue Jeans" leaves skin-crawling and clothes falling off at record pace. The languishing piano and stereo-panning harp plucks found in "Video Games" continue to make the mundane sound sultry nearly three years after the song's release. While "Ride"'s slow, string-heavy build is meant as an anthemic farewell, it's equally adept at scoring a passionate first kiss. Even when her particular lane of pop isn't simmering, it still feels that way. Del Rey may bat her eyelashes with Flash-like speed in "Off to the Races", but the effect is the same.
There's no better way to describe Lana Del Rey's first single from sophomore LP Ultraviolence than as "sensual." That said, its sensuality is a better fit for the midnight hour. Black Keys-guitarist Dan Auerbach's hypnotic island groove to open "West Coast" turns a shade darker as Del Rey launches into her graveyard whisper. "Down on the West Coast, they got a sayin, if you're not drinkin', then you're not playin," she eerily philosophizes. "Live fast and die young" has been an ideology of Del Rey's music since the beginning, but with the exception of the elegiac "Carmen" the dark-end of the tunnel has never seemed so close. Del Rey steps out onto balconies of rippling guitars and stuttering drum fills in the hook of "West Coast", but instead of stopping to enjoy the scenery she wildly proclaims "I'm in love." She's far too preoccupied with Golden-Age Cinema and "Rock N Roll groupies" to notice the flames climbing higher by the minute. By the time the vague chopped-and-screwed outro enters with a gloomy synth in hand, her fate is sealed. Living for the moment is fine until the future becomes the present.