Lana Del Rey shows off two different, moody sides of herself in “West Coast,” the second original song released since the singer announced her upcoming album Ultraviolence and the first she has confirmed will appear on the LP. She cowrote the song with occasional collaborator Rick Nowels and recorded it with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach in Nashville. Del Rey premiered the single art – a yellow, washed-out pic of her looking outward – last week via a tweet, as well as a pic of a billboard featuring select lyrics in another tweet. Previously, she had shared “Meet Me in the Pale Moonlight,” though that track has since been taken offline.
“The record is finished and it’s beautiful; it’s so wrong and exquisite,” Del Rey commented on Ultraviolence and “West Coast” in a statement. “It is absolutely gorgeous, darker than the first.”
Beginning with a syncopated drum fill and slow, skanking rhythm, she sings about supposed West Coast sayings (“If you’re not drinking, then you’re not playing”) in the song, but that it’s OK because, “You’ve got the music in you,” as different guitar textures add elements of pop and soft rock. But then a surf-guitar line transitions the song into a saccharine-sweet slow-tempo, “Ooh baby, ooh baby” love song. The connecting thread is a slow pulse of distortion that ebbs and flows like the beach water in the video, as Del Rey spins in circles and cuddles up to a long-haired, leather-jacketed rocker.
Del Rey announced Ultraviolence in December at the premiere for her short film Tropico. In February, she announced that she was working with Dan Auerbach with a tweet, despite the fact that the Black Keys frontman had given her a strong critique in 2012. “On some level, we’ve seen that Lana Del Rey thing since we first started, like, all of a sudden this new band would be headlining festivals, and we’re like, ‘Wait, how did they get that? We’ve been here for two, three, four, five years and we’re still working our way up,'” Auerbach told MTV at the time. “But then they’re gone. Just as quickly as they get up there, they disappear.”
Last year, Del Rey discussed the mercurial nature of the creative process. “When people ask me about it, I just have to be honest — I really don’t know,” she said about a possible new album. “I don’t want to say, ‘Yeah, definitely — the next one’s better than this one,’ because I don’t really hear a next one. My muse is very fickle. She only comes to me sometimes, which is annoying.”