Sirens is an unreleased demo album by American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey, written and recorded in 2005 and 2006, under the pseudonym May Jailer. The album is considered juvenilia, due to the age at which Del Rey recorded it. The album leaked on May 31, 2012, after much speculation to its contents by fans months before. The album received positive reviews from music critics, but received polarized reviews from many fans. Certain songs were taken from the previous EPs, Young Like Me and From the End.
Background and composition
After learning six chords on acoustic guitar, Del Rey took up the challenge of writing as many songs with those chords as possible. The album was the result of her experimentation. Almost all of the songs on the album fall into the same range, and many are in the same key. Every track is solely composed of only Del Rey's vocals and acoustic guitar, and often focus on arpeggiated melodies using fingerpicking. Almost all tracks have Del Rey singing in a higher register with feathery vocals, except for "Birds of a Feather", which has heavy autotune. All songs were recorded in Del Rey's hometown, Lake Placid, New York, at the Jim Cushman Studio. The producer of the album remains uncredited, although it may have not had one considering the album is solely acoustic. According to his profile on LinkedIn, Alex Frizzell done the audio engineering of the album.
Many music journalists compared the album to Pieces Of You by Jewel, due to its acoustic guitar fingerpicks and feathery vocals. It is also commonly compared to Lady Gaga's unreleased EP, Red & Blue, due to the lack of studio production and pre-fame release status. Critical reviews of the album after its leak were highly positive, praising Del Rey's innocent vocals and the simplistic overtones. Becky Bain of Idolator commented that "though her vocals are often weak and shaky, her tone sounds delicate and sweet on all these simple tracks", and furthered comments on her tone by saying "it’s also refreshing to hear Lana/Lizzy/May perform songs written in her range, so she doesn’t have to sing (and sing-talk) in her head voice and resort to that cutesy, flirty baby coo so prominent throughout Born to Die". Many critics compared the album to something they would hear in a small-town coffee shop, and praised it for its acoustic vibe.
Many of the themes on the album, including love lost, loss of purity, and coming-of-age were included in Del Rey's later work, especially Born to Die. The album does however lack the highly concentrated Americana references often included in her later recordings.
The album was primarily written about K, both directly and indirectly. It includes the story of K's death in Sirens and talks about him further in songs such as "Drive By" and "My Momma". The track "Next to Me" was written about Bill, and was presumably the first song Del Rey wrote about him.
|1.||"Drive By"||Elizabeth Grant||2:51|
|2.||"Next to Me"||Grant||2:41|
|3.||"A Star for Nick"||Grant||2:43|
|6.||"Out with a Bang"||Grant||3:19|
|10.||"How Do You Know Me So Well?"||Grant||3:59|
|15.||"Birds of a Feather"||Grant||2:46|
Sirens originally surfaced when a blogger, who had ordered the original CD online in 2006, mentioned owning a "record by Ms. Grant that you will never hear". However there was no metadata on the CD and the tracks were labeled simply as "Track 1", "Track 2" etc. No titles could be confirmed except "Junky Pride", "A Star for Nick", "Out with a Bang", and "Bad Disease" as they were streamed on various other platforms online under these titles, the rest were simply assumed by fans. When From the End and Young Like Me were leaked online during January, 2014, they contained many duplicate tracks that changed and confirmed some of the titles in Sirens, leaving only "Next to Me", "My Momma", "Pretty Baby" and "Birds of a Feather" unconfirmed.