New band of the day – No 1,022: Lana Del Rey

This self-styled 'gangsta Nancy Sinatra' is a sultry chanteuse whose singing is by turns high and girly and low and husky

Hometown: Lake Placid.

The lineup: Lizzy Grant (vocals).

The background: We like Lizzy Grant, aka Lana Del Rey, we really do. A lot. But she makes us nervous. Mainly because the phrases she uses to describe what it is she does and how she wants to present herself, are better than we could manage. It's great when a new act comes along with a vision and a fully realised aesthetic, but please leave us with some work to do. For example, she's the "gangsta Nancy Sinatra" who wants her music to be "the sonic equivalent of a Vincent Gallo film". That's pretty neat, and will seem more so once you hear her music, which doesn't so much fuse as function as a schizoid choice between sultry 50s ballads that ooze ruined glamour and are full of what she calls "Frank Sinatra strings", and modern hip-hop-inflected pop with hints of high-school drama: think Lil Kim if she was produced by Kim Fowley.

We've been sent nearly 19 tracks by her "people", all demos with different producers at the helm, and they're intriguingly split as outlined above, with the 24-year-old New Yorker and sometime London resident singing either high and girly on songs that present her as some sort of pop Lolita, or low and husky (she's a former jazz singer) on material that suggests a fully-grown woman who's been through the mill and has emerged the other side, wearier and wiser, with stories to tell. Our immediate response to these diametrically opposed approaches is: play them up, and make a concept album, make it two-sided like a vinyl release, or a 12-tracker split evenly, and have it comprise six songs of exuberant, irrepressible pop such as the Guy Chambers-penned Paris, which is pitched young but is playful ("You're such a naughty boy, why you taking that Polaroid?"), and six of the more slow and sorrowful stuff such as Million Dollar Man, which is more Brenda Lee than Britney.

Then again, on Driving in Cars and Hundred Dollar Bill she offers a third way: the Laura Palmer good girl with a dark side, with one foot simultaneously in Twin Peaks and the other in Tinseltown. On the former, over Spectoresque drums, she shoo-shoos like a Shirelle about how all the boys have "all got girlfriends but I'm the one they want" while on the latter she's "the trailer park darling" who likes them "tough and mean". The melodies are catchy and the beats also snag. And references to liquor abound.

If we were in charge – and with our own concert series on the way, surely it's only a matter of time – we'd opt for the concept route. How awesome: an album that follows a young girl's passage from adolescence to adulthood, a Pet Sounds for the Katy Perry generation. Grant's already got the opening and closing tracks: on Puppy Love she chirrups about the pre-rock era of Jackie O and the Dick Van Dyke Show with dizzy, ditzy glee, while on Carmen she almost sounds as weathered and worn as Marianne Faithfull on Broken English. We can't wait to hear that album – in fact, in our spare time between discovering new bands and putting on shows, we'll A&R it if you like.

The buzz: "Cinematic dark pop wrapped in smoky, sultry and glamorous overtones" –

The truth: She's Nicki Minaj in Lana Turner's body.

Most likely to: Park the concept idea.

Least likely to: Spend next year in a sand pit with Van Dyke Parks.

What to buy: Nothing yet – but, seeing as how we're overseeing it, you'll be the first to know when the album's released.

File next to: Sky Ferreira, Britney, Julie London, Julee Cruise.


Monday's new band: Airbird.


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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