Lana Del Rey does it once again with her full-length LP, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd.” The singer released a jewel of a record on March 24 following a two-week pushback.
After the sorrowful and intimate previous release “Blue Banisters,” Del Rey’s direction was unexpected. “Blue Banisters” depicted Del Rey in her most vulnerable state with open discussions about superficial relationships and suicidal feelings.
Del Rey told Rolling Stone UK, “So, Blue Banisters was more of an explanatory album, more of a defensive album, which is why I didn’t promote it, period, at all. I didn’t want anyone to listen to it. I just wanted it to be there in case anyone was ever curious for any information.”
Carrying on from “Blue Banisters,” the artist continues to heal from her toxic past of cultural appropriation and a damsel-in-distress attitude. Tracks like “Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing,” act as a commentary and almost exclusively serves the listeners. The press has notoriously been cold to Del Rey. She’s been accused of being anti-feminist, making her a poor writer and less of an artist for it according to criticism. The track reveals her truth and her authenticity as an artist. The quiet drum kit and the hopeful piano are the foundation of the song’s strength, besides Del Rey’s father’s shoulder muscles.
“Regrettably, also a white woman / But I have good intentions even if I’m one of the last ones.”
Listening to the record is much like reading Del Rey’s poetic diaries. The self-reflection on the album is accompanied by beautiful production by Jack Antonoff and Drew Ericson. The ballads are drenched in gentle strings led by the singer’s angel-like voice. Del Rey comforts herself, yet questions a future life with a spouse and children on tracks like “Sweet” and “Fingertips.”
On “Fingertips” she asks “Will the baby be alright? Will I have one of mine? / Can I handle it even if I do? / It’s said that my mind is not fit, or so they said, to carry a child / I guess I’ll be fine.”
But her love song, “Sweet” drops her doubt with a partner of hers. “Do you want children? Do you wanna marry me? / Do you wanna run marathons in Long Beach by the sea? / I’ve got things to do, like nothing at all / I wanna do them with you / Do you wanna do them with me?”
The love for her family on the album is no secret as well, especially in the opening song “The Grants.” The artist is known for choosing a striking opener and “The Grants” is no exception. With the accompaniment of a haunting choir and backup vocals, singing about the afterlife has never been as delightful as she makes it out to be.
As serious as she can be, Del Rey also sprinkles her playful and comical touch between songs. From the use of vape crackles buried on “A&W” to her Los Angeles quirk on “Taco Truck x VB,” these subtle additions are what tie the album together.
The only skippable moments on the record are the interludes and some lazy creative direction. Megachurch pastor, Judah Smith, on “Judah Smith Interlude” yells on about keeping the faith and the promise of a god. The minor key piano on this track is what makes this track so eerie and it is questionable as to what Del Rey wants the listener to interpret due to her satirical laughs and vocal affirmations. “Jon Batiste Interlude” also feels like a late addition to the record without adding much substance, unless you prefer to hear Jon Batiste messing around for more than 3 minutes on the piano.
Del Rey’s sampling can get uninspiring on “Paris, Texas” and “Peppers.” The original tracks from SYML and Tommy Genesis are barely altered. However, Del Rey came to deliver on the experimental pop journey in “Peppers.” The artist’s staple guitar synthesizer paired with Tommy Genesis’ flirtatious rap is a complementary couple.
The album ends with fan service by gifting Del Rey listeners a reworked version of “Venice B—” deriving out of her 2019 LP “Norman F— Rockwell.” The remix is incomparable to the nine-minute song and is an awkward closure to the album. While the beginning of “Taco Truck x VB” is every Southern California girl’s anthem, Del Rey’s hip-hop style ad-libs are unserious and make the ending of the track a glance over.
“Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” is Del Rey’s passion project. From the hopeless romantic nature and collaborative chemistry with Father John Misty on “Let The Light In” to her family dedications throughout the album, it is the singer’s best record yet. Del Rey has mastered her sound and perfected it with this release. Beginning at magical strings and ending with 808s, she’s got it all. While “Blue Banisters” was her most vulnerable record, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” opens up Del Rey’s innermost thoughts in a truly remarkable way. Just like the tunnel under Ocean Blvd, the best songwriter of our generation, Lana Del Rey, will not be forgotten anytime soon.
Verdict: Lana Del Rey’s latest record leaves the listener with emotional chills alongside their dancing. The album will most certainly be in the rotation of every SoCal girl you know.