Lana Del Rey and her ninth major-label studio album, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, is not a character analysis but a thorough self-explanation. The Visionary of The Year honoree takes folk to new depths, intertwining harrowing childhood experiences and inexplicable deaths. However, death is notDel Rey’s final destination— it frames her recovery and spiritual constitution. Unlike Blue Banisters, Ocean Blvd unroots the singer’s family tree amid bare tracks flanked with guitar strings, airy falsettos and thoughtful rambling. At 37 years old, this introspection isn’t a middle-life crisis for the singer. Instead, the question of “Who is Lana Del Rey?” is answered.
Track Highlights from Ocean Blvd
Yes, her answer spans nearly one hour and twenty minutes, and it’s necessary. Even through numerous sampling, Del Rey carves a unique path that is distinctively hers. With frequent references to her brother Charlie, sister Caroline, and her dad, Ocean Blvd is a testament to Del Rey’s loved ones and life’s challenges. Take the gospel opener “The Grants” as more than John Denver saying, “I’m gonna take a bit of mine of you with me.”
In the cathartic “Knitsugi,” the album’s message makes a vulnerable appearance: let the light shine in. Instead of seeing herself as damaged from familial deaths, Del Rey takes inspiration from the Japanese artform to highlight her “brokenness” as something that tells a story of strength.
Probably the album’s crux is “Fingertips,” Del Rey’s innermost stream-of-consciousness, uncovering dark topics like sexual assault, suicidal ideation, and mental institutions— even questioning her ability to be a good mother. Disregarding the standard song structure, Del Rey ventures through her anxiety verse after verse in a one-take tearful falsetto sent to producer Drew Erikson. It’s the singer’s “two minutes” to be herself before going back to being a “serene queen”
“Aaron ended up dead and not me / What the fuck’s wrong in your head to send me away, never to come back? / Exotic places and people don’t take the place of being your child / I give myself two seconds to cry.”[Via]
On “Paris, Texas (feat. SYML),” Lana flirts with self-discovery outside of her comfort zone and lands in her man-made home: Venice, California. Eerily enough, it sounds like the perfect theme song to Tim Burton’s Coraline. “Margaret (feat. The Bleachers)” is an ode to Jack Antonoff’s fiancé. Both tracks’ repetition of “When you know, you know ” reflects Del Rey’s own journey to feeling grounded in herself.
Trap Lana Returns to Ocean Blvd
Del Rey releases are a critic’s paradise, and she knows it. The media frenzy, amongst other themes, incubates Ocean Blvd to perfection, yet it gives life to a whole lot of love and understanding. It leaves Del Rey to, frankly, have more fun. The experimental “A&W” isn’t a blimp: hip-hop Del Rey reappears on the last three tracks. On “Peppers,” Del Rey samples Tommy Genises’s sexy “Angelina Jolie” to dig at media naysayers while re-engineering a surf-rock outro.
“My boyfriend tested positive for COVID, it don’t matter / We’ve been kissing, so whatever he has, I have, I can’t cry”[Via]
Despite the minimal media clapback throughout the record, it feels intentional. And, sometimes, it feels like a whole personality shift like on the lyrically unhinged lazy-trap-turned-808-fever-dream finale “Taco Truck x VB.” The revisioned “Venice Bitch” sample is just as hypnotizing as first heard on Norman Fucking Rockwell.
“Oh, that’s why they call me Lanita / When I get down, I’m bonita / Don’t come find me in Reseda / I’ll go crazy / Read my gold chain, says “Lanita” / When I’m violent, it’s Carlito’s Way.”[Via]
Final Thoughts on Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd by Lana Del Rey
For the most part, Ocean Blvd charges towards the future. But, there are odd moments, like the soft-spoken “Fishtail” feeling stagnant despite the mouth-watering bass drop, that lengthen the record. Across 16 songs, family love and friendship are at the end of a long tunnel full of sermon interludes, mortality contemplation, COVID confessions, and timeless features. Lana Del Rey’s Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd is her truest confessional– take her as is.
Don’t believe us? Well your favorite singers and celebrities are also loving the new Lana Del Rey.
What do you think of Lana Del Rey’s new album, Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd? Let us know in the comments! Check out Lana’s latest visualizer for “Candy Necklace (feat. Jon Batiste)” here.