Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Don't Smile at Me | Billie Eilish

As if you couldn't deduce it from the irritated glare she shoots you from the cover of her debut extended play, Billie Eilish makes it pretty clear that she doesn't want you to smile at her. And she doesn't want to smile at you.

From a stranger's perspective today, it may be hard to believe that her earliest single, "Ocean Eyes," is a feathery, non-confrontational synthpop track that was recorded in her brother's bedroom for her lyrical dance group. Her fluid vocals run like a stream over lightweight production, and when the track found its way onto every trending playlist on the web, Eilish was deemed the world's next best do-it-yourself hit-maker. And although Don't Smile at Me makes a finale out of "Ocean Eyes," its remaining tracks are products of an unrecognizable Billie Eilish.

Despite a much more professional guise, Don't Smile at Me is an in-house product in its entirety. Her brother, songwriter and former Glee actor Finneas O'Connell, co-wrote the extended play and produced it himself, throwing his sister's pastel voice over a distinct mixture of acoustics and electronics. At her most intimidating, she can unhinge over low-riding bass that can shake the dead from their slumber ("Copycat," "Bellyache") or grab a ukulele and leave a twinkling musical voicemail to confront a boyfriend ("Party Favor"). In that last one, she's cool and collected as she twists the knife in her send-off: "And I hate to do this to you on your birthday... Happy birthday, by the way."

Eilish is edgy in the most marketable way – and she is perhaps the most believably edgy of her contemporaries. There really isn't a fictional character or grand conceptual schtick to her tunes. It's just her: a teenager who has seen some heartbreak, hates having her style copped, and uses her angst to write some fine viral pop tunes. Even when she does sing a fictional narrative, as she does on "Bellyache," it's with a tone that falls in line with the rest of her extended play: "I'm biting my nails. I'm too young to go to jail... It's kind of funny," she sings from the perspective of a murderer who regrets having slaughtered her friends and lover just moments prior to the song.

For someone so young, Eilish's swagger is unbelievably convincing. She released Don't Smile at Me at age 15, meaning she threatened to ignite a boyfriend's car and watch it burn on the swelling choruses of "Watch" before she could even drive herself. Her voice is light but is complemented, not hindered, by her brother's production choices, and to boot, their refreshingly casual songwriting is trendy without the overwrought poems many young artists tend to pen in their infancy. After all, Billie Eilish is not here to make you (or herself, for that matter) smile; she's here to make music that sounds badass – and that's exactly what she's done here.

Don't Smile at Me is available now under Interscope Records.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Camila | Camila Cabello

Begging for the spotlight undivided, former Fifth Harmony descant vocalist Camila Cabello wanted a hit on her own terms. But instead of running right into one a few months after leaving the girl group, she backed into another accidentally.

Last May, she released what used to be a foolproof move for any artist in search of a quick hit: ye ole Sia-penned power pop anthem. "Crying in the Club" and subsequent buzz track "I Have Questions" painted her debut album, then announced as The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving., as a promising little pop juggernaut. But as the track smacked itself only in the middle of the Billboard Hot 100 and slid down from there, Cabello learned that a Sia signature cannot guarantee the hit she craved in the current popular landscape, which rap and hip-hop currently dominate.

Then came “Havana,” the hit that wasn’t supposed to be. A humid slice of the tropics that is unfortunately outfitted with an ill-fitting Young Thug verse, the infectious little tune was released as one-half of a double-sided promo single... until she realized that it fits the bill of a 2017 hit. In an obsession with numbers and commercial success, Cabello all but abandoned anything to have been released B.H. (before "Havana") and renamed her debut album to the simpler, less inflammatory Camila. And in doing so, she also reconfigured its contents to hold the same qualities.

With a total run time that clocks in at just over half an hour, Camila is a short, inoffensive cross-sectional of Ed Sheeran’s acoustic nonevents, ever-popular trap beats, and her own humid taste of the tropics. "Havana" is blessed with younger siblings "She Loves Control," what sounds like a spiced-up outtake from Selena Gomez, and “Inside Out,” an island-lite number. Elsewhere, the album becomes more reliant on ballads than it should be: stripped acoustic instrumentation and adequate (at best) vocal stamina make for low-voltage tracks like “Consequences” and “Real Friends.” So really, it’s short-sighted commercial pop music adorned in its finest 2018 garb.

Seeing that it’s incapable of producing bangers that ignite ("Into It" really does try, though) or ballads that drive a knife to the heart (power ballad "Never Be the Same" tries just as hard), the topical mid-tempo production falls stagnant quickly and leaves Cabello’s voice to float to the forefront. Once known as the shrill shriek that pushed its way to the front of the mix in every Fifth Harmony track, her voice is revealed to be, well, still a shrill shriek that can also dip and flutter on occasion. Sure, she’s capable of leaning (just barely) into some moodier notes and maintains primary residence in her less polarizing midrange, but otherwise, it’s just business as usual. 

Business as usual certainly isn’t out of the ordinary for Camila Cabello, though. She made it quite obvious from Fifth Harmony's beginning that solo stardom was the end goal; her time with a girl group, the industry's most notorious ticking time-bomb of self-destruction, was merely the vehicle to get there. And she got what she wanted: a worldwide hit and a solo album that is the musical equivalent to vanilla ice cream, the lowest common denominator of all foods. Yes, everyone will stomach it just fine, but it would sure be a hell of a lot better if somebody would have added a little something more to it.

Camila is available now under Epic Records.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Ephorize | CupcakKe

The career began not with a bang, but with a moan. Actually, multiple moans.

By her own wishes, Chicago native CupcakKe is known for being nasty – even nastier than should be expected for someone who boasts dirty rap tracks titled "Vagina" and "Deepthroat." She humped, fucked, and slurped her way to viral notoriety with those two tracks (and more) by the way of digital platforms just three years ago. And what separated her from other sex-positive overnight sensations was a constant stream of full-body works – a combination of commercial mixtapes and studio albums – that kept her at the top of social media feeds.

Unlike Khia or Riskay, she wasn't damned to the status of a one-trick novelty act; In fact, soon after the release of Queen Elizabitch last year, the public perception of CupcakKe began to shift. Charli XCX picked her up for features on both of her collaborative mixtapes; she hopped on stage with Charli at Lollapalooza and got the whole crowd to moan along with her; and household magazines legitimized her place in rap music. She began to make headlines for more than her provocative ways: her skills, her donations to homeless gay youth, and her uncovered beginnings as a church poet.

So why did CupcakKe take off and stay afloat? It's a development that couldn't have been predicted when she was best known only as the young woman who moaned and barked in breast-less tops and nipple pasties, but a personality can be found behind CupcakKe's sexual antics: interviews and Twitter interactions reveal her to be a good-humored, self-aware young woman. Perhaps more important in regard to her success, though, CupcakKe has bars. Her deep, aggressive voice rips into every verse it encounters, as she proves time and time again on her third studio album, Ephorize.

Like Queen Elizabitch before it, Ephorize sounds professional in production choices. Gone are the cut-and-paste, do-it-yourself beats of her earliest tracks; here to stay are party tracks like "Duck Duck Goose" and "Crayons" that could have been passed over to Britney Spears or Pitbull. (Man, one of those artists could make a great CupcakKe collaboration, and the other, such a terrible one. We all know which one is which.) She even takes to the most popular sound of the hour: The Latin-pop "Fullest" closes the album of 15 relentless tracks that, unlike a few others in her catalog, can withstand CupcakKe's vocal attacks.

Since her first commercial mixtapes Cum Cake and S.T.D. (Shelters to Deltas), her persona-identifying filthy tracks have dwindled in numbers. And in the lead-up to this album, sex was minimized a great deal in comparison to past work; minus the mention of blue balls in second single "Cartoons," genitalia and bodily fluids were pretty well subtracted from the equation. It's a strange thought until "Spoiled Milk Titties," "Post Pic," and "Duck Duck Goose" enter the picture to remind us that it wouldn't be a CupcakKe album without a dose of ridiculousness and mentions of masturbation, downstairs hair, and a, uh, self-described "sinkhole." (And they're all mindless party bangers, mind you.)

While she may never be able to stray far from her specialty of dirty rap, CupcakKe still entertains outside of her sex-centric tracks – even if she may think otherwise. On "Self Interview," she says, "Most people already skipped this song because it ain't about sex appealing," which could be the first time CupcakKe hasn't spoken the gospel. People are listening, and they're listening in larger numbers than most would expect – just over one million people a month on Spotify alone. And if she continues to sharpen her game with each album and retain even a fraction of the absurdity, as she's done here, they'll always keep coming back for more.

Ephorize is available now.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Don't Kill My Vibe | Sigrid

First impressions are everything, especially for new artists. Just ask Sigrid.

The 21-year-old singer-songwriter's debuts single, "Don't Kill My Vibe," struck a chord with streaming audiences; It raced up the trending charts and racked up millions of plays across online platforms. Popular as it may have been, though, the low-voltage track was less than thrilling for those of us who expect our favorite bangers, well, to go somewhere. (Sure, it's badass and very much cool, but it doesn't quite reach the explosive highs that its verses and gradual build-up imply it will.)

Having given Sigrid the cold shoulder after a lukewarm introduction, I hadn't a clue what else could be found on the extended play of the same name as the polarizing single. And that's a shame, because the four-track outing otherwise reveals Sigrid's stunning potential.

Her voice is both musky and feminine. It grows charmingly hoarse as she builds in volume, like when she yells out the end of her prechoruses on "Plot Twist" and "Fake Friends" and triggers some ear-catching choruses – and man, as it turns out, she actually does have quite a knack for chorus-crafting. On this short but spectacular extended play, they range from headstrong ("Plot Twist") to tear-jerking (the acoustic "Dynamite," which reveals a smoother, operatic side to Sigrid).

While dressed to the nines in sharp pop magic, her songs are first and foremost melodically driven: a fact that the extended play's sole acoustic track proves. The affinity for strong musical cores gives her tracks an advantage over the thousands out there from artists of a similar caliber. But of course, her voice, self-assured personality, and stellar production choices only make me feel worse for having not allowed her to reintroduce herself to my ears sooner.

Don't Kill My Vibe is available now under Island Records.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Favorite Albums of 2017

10. Ctrl by SZA

With personal tales of conflict, sexcapades, and self-loathing, SZA doesn't seem to have it all figured out as her debut album unfolds. And as a coming of age record, Ctrl is striking in the sense that SZA never does figure life out by the end: "Only know fear. That's me, Ms. 20-Something. Ain't got nothin', runnin' from love," she sings on the album's acoustic finale. It doesn't hurt, of course, that her malleable voice navigates well through her soundscapes, which color a bit outside the lines of the typical R&B artist's template, and that the album doesn't have any shortages of solid grooves or melodies. But what really drives this record home is the young woman at the center of it all: SZA, a charismatic, honest woman who isn't afraid to splatter herself, her insecurities, her mistakes, and her secrets across a damn fine record. (Read the full review.)

9. Crawl Space by Tei Shi

Capturing the essence of the narrow, dank space Tei Shi often visited at night as a child to combat her fear of the dark, Crawl Space is an echoing pop record adorned with mysterious shrieks and extraneous spurts of energy. Insulated by a cloak of anonymity within the darkness, her ambient dreams and disruptive tendencies clash unabashedly, translating into a schizophrenic, albeit revealing and enjoyable, product of experimentation. Although her voice and demeanor were shrouded in reverberation and behind a wall of blaring synthesizers on past extended plays, they take command and become the guiding forces to hone a consistent vision on her debut record – an eccentric, honest vision from an artist who just conquered all of her fears in one zealous swish. (Read the full review.)

8. Lovers by Anna of the North

It may be easy to write off Anna of the North as purely an aesthetics act, capitalizing on viral appeal for sharp cinematography and living in a world colored in pastel pink and baby blue. While that may have been a more accurate description in the days of "Sway," the disjointed breakthrough track recorded on GarageBand, today's Anna of the North has a clearer trajectory. They've found their place along the musical spectrum, nixing their initial nods toward hip-hop for feathery synthpop. Now to be considered the formal introduction to the duo, Lovers is a focused ten-track outfit with the sounds and substance to captivate. (Read the full review.)

7. Truth is a Beautiful Thing by London Grammar

When at their best, the members of London Grammar sound as if they make music while driving westward at dusk, forever chasing the radiant glow of the sun from under the impending cloak of night. A dark desperation looms over the trio's lyrics, but muggy undertones linger from the heat of the day, melting some of lead vocalist Hannah Reid's stern vocal impact. While the trio's debut operated on the successful creation of moods and vibes, their sophomore record, Truth is a Beautiful Thing, takes a more anthemic approach. The resulting product is a captivating record with stronger melodies that better exercise the skills of the dominating vocalist who delivers them. (Read the full review.)

6. Dua Lipa by Dua Lipa

With her eponymous debut album, Dua Lipa declares herself a conscious pop artist. She delivered a standard pop album in many aspects, ignoring the pressures of cohesiveness and albumwide storytelling. And spare perhaps a faulty moment of judgement when she thought it was a good idea to give a song the trendy acronym title "IDGAF," her unrestrained creativity doesn't lead her down any disastrous avenues. But more importantly, she proves to be a very human artist, with an alluring debut album that mirrors not only her musical interests that encompass every star and moon of the pop music universe, but also her exploration as to her place within that universe. She may not have found the answer to the latter just yet, but at least she knows that there are good chances that she could stick the landing no matter which way she jumps. (Read the full review.)

5. Lust for Life by Lana Del Rey

Despite the smile she wears on the cover of the strangely optimistic Lust for Life, Lana Del Rey still feels like Lana Del Rey – a happier one who has just entered a new chapter of life. In doing so, she adopts a socially responsible view of her music's place in the grander scheme of the world, realizing she shaped pop culture present as she wandered through memories of pop culture past. While she's still an escapist with a limited vocabulary of poetic language, she now wears the title as she ignores a real-life disaster – a striking change from just a few album cycles ago, when she would dream up an imaginary tragedy to transcend ordinary life. And it's this unspoken appreciation for everyday life that shows sincerity in her lust for it. (Read the full review.)

4. Something to Tell You by Haim

Haim's sophomore record is low maintenance, rhythm-heavy, and effortlessly rad. Juxtaposing its lyrics, which are tied up in a few love affairs, it rides a warm Southern California vibe and operates without any sense of urgency. Something to Tell You doesn't search for the enveloping climaxes that were scattered throughout its predecessor, but instead, it stumbles upon them by surprise. And through it all, the Haim sisters usher it all back into a singular vision – a vision of a warm, sepia-toned world – from behind their pairs of retro drugstore sunglasses. (Read the full review.)

3. Masseduction by St. Vincent

Though her most impressive outing overall to date, Masseduction undoubtedly finds its brightest moments in firecracker cuts like "Los Ageless" and "Sugarboy," when she commands her trusty guitar and zany synthesizers to unhinge around her soprano pipes. But sparse, surprisingly transparent ballads like "Smoking Section" and "New York," during which she seems more conflicted than corrupted, are equally important to the album's backbone. Because while her inner conflict is exposed only when St. Vincent comes down from the frantic highs to reflect on intrapersonal issues rather than on how widespread chaos affects her daily life, it is what hones cultural madness into a personal album that is much more socially aware than its master portrays it to be. (Read the full review.)

2. About U by MUNA

Fusing the best of pop-rock, synthpop, and contemporary alternative R&B without skirting through their contemporaries' narrow field of drum machines and dingy synthesizers, MUNA (like Lady Gaga with ARTPOP, they insist on all caps for their title) rests within a malleable niche that lends itself to every mood of the hour. The scope of their debut album's sonic horizon stretches from the dusky tones of "After" to the atmospheric euphoria of "Around U" and "End of Desire." In theory, it could seem like an overarching goal of a hyperactive group in a rush to show the world what they're capable of delivery; In practice, though, it's a well-executed display of every emotional turn in the trajectory of an ill-fated relationship. The songs of About U follow the organic fluxes and flows of a story arc that is more than intriguing enough to pull listeners into MUNA's gaze and lock them there from beginning to end. (Read the full review.)

1. Melodrama by Lorde

Lorde's sophomore record, Melodrama, paints the warm-toned portrait of a charismatic young woman who has cracked open her own reservations and granted herself the liberty to act her age. As the animated scrapbook of someone who dipped her toes into adulthood with the luxurious excesses attached to celebrity status at her disposal, the album's narrative reveals Lorde did a bit of it all in the four years between her studio albums: The drinks, the parties, the love. In fact, the only thing the album fails to mention is the secret Instagram account dedicated to onion rings. (Read the full review.)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Favorite Songs of 2017 (Part Five)

It is not only time for us all to get holly, jolly, merry, and bright, but also time for us to compile all of the tracks that made this year a bit more enjoyable. For reference, one musical act is allowed to have only one track on my countdown. Click the hyperlinks to read parts one, two, three, and four, and check back for my top ten favorite albums of the year post in the coming days.

10. "Lost in Your Light" by Dua Lipa feat. Miguel

Ah, the hit that never was. Its trendier follow-up, “New Rules,” was the wild hit that Lipa wanted since the beginning – so badly, in fact, that she tried to rerelease "Be The One" in what seemed to be a hail Mary pass to becoming a Top 40 artist – but “Lost in Your Light” deserves credit where it is due. Quite the grower, it was at first seemed like a radio-chasing track for Lipa. But as time has passed, it has become a highlight from her self-titled debut album; the warm entanglement of Lipa and Miguel’s vocals over an embankment of synthesizers feels like too natural to have ever felt as foreign as it once did.

9. "Non Believer" by London Grammar

On the encompassing, dusky-toned “Non Believer,” London Grammar vocalist Hannah Reid’s heavyweight harmonies are drenched in a sticky, syrupy vocoder, which digitizes her voice into a wall that slams into listeners at each chorus. (And man, when the instrumentation breaks away and lets the vocals to their own devices at the three-minute mark, it makes for a haunting moment before the song kicks back into overdrive.) Simply put, it's an exhilarating listen from start to finish.

8. "Hard Times" by Paramore

On “Hard Times,” Paramore manages to encase its favorite topic – angst in the highest degree – in hazy, upbeat pop. Hayley Williams is still caught under the weight of living, singing, “Hard times, gonna make you wonder why you even try. Hard times, gonna knock you down and laugh when you cry.” The successful juxtaposition of Williams' grief with the fizzling pop sparks roughly equates to the same basic principle upon which Paramore was founded: barreling through the pain via song, even if that means plastering on a smile but allowing the stretched threads of a singer in crisis show through.

7. "Mama Say" by Betty Who

If you aim to make a tribute track to peak Britney Spears and market it as such, this is the way to do it. Betty Who packed “Mama Say” with a load of Britney lyrical references, a heavy beat that thumps like a basketball pounded across a polished hardwood floor, and – wait for it – a signature early Max Martin staple: a double-layer final chorus with a bridge overlay. It is the unapologetic pure pop track that we've wanted from many pop stars for a while now, but one that we haven't received from the big names in years as they continue to diverge into newer territories. Luckily, Who understands and appreciates '90s kid nostalgia as much as we do.

6. "Around U" by MUNA

On “Around U,” MUNA's frontwoman Katie Gavin recounts the world as she once saw it while enamored with a past lover but realizes that the world she sees now is much brighter alone. It's the most triumphant moment on the trio's outstanding debut album, About U, which is often stuck in a cloud of self-doubt. "Something massive happened here. You can feel it in the atmosphere. Something false that once was true: I no longer revolve around you," Gavin says as the track expands into an encompassing, awestruck chorus.

5. "Los Ageless" by St. Vincent

On her newest album, Masseduction, St. Vincent is much wittier than she wants listeners to believe. Damning west coast show business culture on the jagged standout "Los Ageless," she masquerades her commentary in a love song façade. "How can anybody have you, lose you, and not lose their minds, too?" she wonders out loud over one of her catchiest soundscapes to date. Playing the hell out of her guitar, she layers her instrumental talent over Jack Antonoff's relentless electronic drums and keys. In traditional St. Vincent fashion, it's a technicolor madhouse of a track – but a beautiful one, at that.

4. "Keep Running" by Tei Shi

In a race against time, Tei Shi crafts a desperate plea for a lover, quite frankly, to hurry up. A constant reminder that time goes full-speed ahead while we sit none the wiser, a love-hungry Shi repeats, “Every time I look over my shoulder, I’m getting older. Time is so sad; tie me to it.” The spacey track first counteract, then builds to match, her urgency as layers collide; what begins as a cool drumbeat and bass line turns into a paroxysm of soaring vocal lines and instrumentation.

3. "Tease" by Ralph

A glistening, modern synthpop track built upon a slinky ‘70s rhythm machine for a backbone, “Tease” flourishes into the sunniest, most conversational exposé to come from pop music – one that isn't particularly bitter, but rather nods toward the mere recognition and dismissal of a sweet talker. Ralph’s smooth vocals, just reminiscent enough of Stevie Nicks’ to make note of the similarity, give way to lively instrumentation that begs listeners to dance away their feelings for all the two-timers who were disguised as cool cats. 

2. "Perfect Places" by Lorde

As the album-encompassing finale of Lorde’s coming-of-age manifesto, “Perfect Places” shatters the glorious, perfectionist perceptions of her debut record. In a rebellious turn, she strays from intense intellectualism and into the depths of every house party on the block on Melodrama, but it isn’t until “Perfect Places” that she gives insight as to why. All her heroes are dead and her idealistic dreams are shattered, she admits in a breathtaking chorus. In disbelief, she attempts to find happiness at the heart of every party – and with this track, is the life of said parties, too. By its close, “Perfect Places” settles on the realization that complete happiness will never be, so escapism will have to do.

1. "Someone" by Anna of the North

Anna Lotterud and Brady Daniell-Smith wanted to create a song that sounded like the tracks they listened to as kids of the ‘80s, a decade dominated by warm, fuzzy synthpop and overwrought power rock ballads. And unlike most in their position, Anna of the North was able to tackle both in one song. Tying the gap between Madonna and Journey, “Someone” commences with clipped drum-machine hits and swells into the overwrought ways of '80s power ballads: blaring choruses, prominent guitar lines, multilayered vocals – oh, and a key change, which concretes the duo's successful effort to replicate the authenticity of an '80s radio behemoth.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Favorite Songs of 2017 (Part Four)

It is not only time for us all to get holly, jolly, merry, and bright, but also time for us to compile all of the tracks that made this year a bit more enjoyable. For reference, one musical act is allowed to have only one track on my countdown. Click the hyperlinks to read parts one, two, and three, and check back for the rest of my list in the coming days.

15. "Malibu" by Miley Cyrus

Though Younger Now unsuccessfully tries to stretch its magic across 10 tracks, "Malibu" is undeniably one of Top 40’s best offerings this year. An unexpected move after Miley Cyrus' detour into hip-hop on Bangerz and obscure alternative rock static on Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz, acoustic country-pop blossoms into SoCal soft rock on "Malibu" to successful results. It radiates with a newfound happiness, mirroring Cyrus' life as a re-engaged woman.

14. "Chained to the Rhythm" by Katy Perry feat. Skip Marley

Katy Perry said to expect woke-pop from her fourth major label studio album, and “Chained to the Rhythm” was a positive sign that she could make good on the promise. Utilizing a popular ironic approach to social commentary, it hypnotizes listeners with a looped neo-disco sample, despite its own warnings against the attraction to an arbitrary beat. Witness may have fallen flat of expectations and been no more than typical fodder, but "Chained to the Rhythm" remains one of Perry’s brightest, most self-aware highlights.

13. "Underdog" by Banks

Traditionally a somber artist who unleashes either sorrow or fury in her tracks, Banks has let loose. She strips away sexual inhibition, admitting she is a daunting lover. “Even though I got a reputation unaccompanied, baby, you could make this, maybe you could make it as the underdog,” she over-enunciates over jolting electronic keys and smooth bass. In signature Banks style, she gulps through most of her words as sharp beats kick beneath her.

12. "Something to Tell You" by Haim

The title track to Haim's sophomore record is the antithesis to their debut's magic formula: It allows dead space for the song's elements to breathe. Accompanied by a groovy bass line and deep drums, the track bleeds a summery '70s vibe that the Haim sisters align with effortlessly. Meanwhile, Danielle, Este, and Alana spurt into thick harmonies against little instrumental to support them, accentuating their vocal lines and intensifying the urgency behind the lines, "'Cause I got something to tell you, but I don't know why it's so hard to let you know that we're not seeing eye to eye."

11. "Heroin" by Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey’s fourth major label studio album, Lust for Life, is strangely optimistic – something uncharacteristic of the usually gloomy Del Rey. Zeroing in on society as it stands today, it acts, in part, as a protest record, but it often fine-tunes itself with a brighter outlook than expected. However, not all is well in Del Rey's world, especially in her personal life. Paralleling heroin for fame, “Heroin” follows both sides of the metaphor; a booming ballad, it unpacks the destruction caused by heroin in society and fame in her life. She flies over the cinematic soundscape in imperfect harmonies, projecting the organic, raw guise she has boasted since Ultraviolence.