Lana Del Rey's previous album, 2012's Born To Die, sold seven million copies and made her one of the biggest new stars on the planet, albeit one of the most mysterious. She seemed almost too good to be true, like a '50s B-movie starlet who had stepped straight off the screen into a recording career. There were, as a result, questions raised about the authenticity of the artist born Lizzy Grant. For some, the New Yorker was insufficiently "real", and her noir femme fatale persona on record entirely fabricated.
But if you bought into the idea of Lana Del Rey as a fictional character singing her songs about clichéd bad boys and doomed romance, you won't have cared - you will have loved her music and appreciated that she was at the opposite end of the girl-next-door spectrum to someone like Adele.
Born To Die was so perfectly formed, both as pop product and myth creation, that it almost obviated the need for a follow-up. Indeed, Del Rey told Vogue: "I don't think I'll write another record," adding: "I feel like everything I wanted to say, I said already." Luckily for fans, she changed her mind.
Largely produced by Dan Auerbach of blues-rock band The Black Keys, Ultraviolence is, if anything, even more consistently sorrowful and somnambulant than its predecessor. Del Rey has recently become increasingly a caricature of the terminal miserablist. But it serves to enhance the melancholy mood. Virtually all the songs crawl along as though to emphasise the slow, torturous nature of existence. The melodies are achingly sad and LDR delivers them all in that exhausted, dejected voice of hers, one that manages to sound simultaneously wasted and coquettish.
It's the absolute antithesis of all those bellowing females on X Factor and The Voice and ultimate proof that less is more. If you want to imagine living in a David Lynch psychodrama, where all the girls look like Sherilyn Fenn and the boys come from the wrong side of town, then this gauzy, shimmery music - not so much love songs as songs in love with the idea of lovelessness - will provide the ideal soundtrack.