** (out of four)
For months, buzz for Lana Del Rey suggested that she’s the greatest thing since (fill in the blank). Now that the nostalgic singer-songwriter’s debut “Born to Die” has arrived, we can finally declare in unison: Sliced bread, you have nothing to worry about.
“Born to Die” does not represent a disaster, just a case of hype spun out of control. Of course conversation has swirled; Del Rey (real name: Lizzy Grant) mixes hip-hop tendencies with a lush, orchestral sound, calls herself the “gangsta Nancy Sinatra” and, as no one has failed to note, takes a nice picture. Yet her album sounds like words accidentally slipping out of the mouth of someone pouting. With little distinction between happiness and sorrow, Del Rey halfheartedly vacillates from sounding like Ke$ha auditioning for a Bond movie (“Off to the Races”) to a country singer who grew up in the city (“Radio”) to a lazy, misguided rapper (“National Anthem,” which is ripe for a Nicki Minaj cover).