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Lana delivers on her promise

One of the most hotly-awaited albums of 2012 finally hits the shelves, and for once most of the hype seems merited.

Forget all the questions about "authenticity", all the has she-hasn’t she? rumours about those puffy lips, Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die is an impressive entry to the pop mainstream for the New York singer.

Those who succumbed to the delicious swoon of Video Games won’t be disappointed by Born To Die, even if that international hit remains unassailable as the singer’s career highlight.

Some tracks come close to matching its vulnerable charm. The brooding title track is a grower, while the more uptempo songs promise to liven up the radio playlists well into summer.

The self-styled "gangsta Nancy Sinatra" shows some of her influences are a little more mainstream. Madonna is an inevitable comparison, on the camp and overblown Carmen, and the irresistible 80s pastiche Dark Paradise, while This Is What Makes Us Girls and National Anthem are the kind of instant and intelligent pop that the Material Girl would kill for these days.

The album is frothy, fun, accessible with a hint of subversion. The overtly autobiographical Radio, with its title and infectious chorus, should be all over the airwaves, except that Del Rey can’t resist undermining the commercial sheen with a gleeful swear word.

The lyrics keep coming back to the "love you forever" and "take your body downtown" themes. Born To Die might not be an eternal love affair, but it will be a thrilling six-month fling, perhaps even an obsession, until something more substantial comes along.

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