Lana Del Rey releases captivating album

‘Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd’ is as authentic as its title


Fair use from Genius

Ena Mekic

It has been two years since Lana Del Rey released her last album, “Blue Banisters,” and fans have been patiently waiting for another release from the singer-songwriter. “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd,” Del Rey’s ninth studio album, was finally released on March 24. Her music can be described as moody, dreamy and nostalgic with a cinematic quality, and this album doesn’t stray from it. The album explores the topics of dealing with grief, importance of family and the experiences of being a woman. 

The album unites Del Rey with artists from widely varying genres. She collaborates with Father John Misty, Tommy Genesis and trusted collaborator Jack Antonoff of Bleachers, who also produced the record. In addition, Jon Batiste is featured on “Candy Necklace” and “Jon Batiste Interlude.”

The album kicks off with “The Grants,” a somber reflection on loss and grief. Del Rey sings about promising to remember her family once she goes to heaven with a gospel choir singing emotionally in the background. This theme is continued through the song “Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing,” another fairytale-like ballad where she ponders the afterlife.

The album’s second single, “A&W,” proves to be one of the best. She examines the paradox of the liberation and condemnation women who freely express themselves face. “A&W” is a seven-minute track split into two parts. Del Rey narrates an anecdote that starts in her innocent childhood and follows her through adulthood, where she begins to feel the weight of the pressure society puts on women. 

She gets very personal on songs like “Fingertips,” where she ponders in a dreamy, string heavy ballad about her family, death and legacy. She sings, “Will I die? Or will I get to that 10-year mark? Will you be there with me, Father, Sister, Brother?” While the middle of the album gets slow with songs like “Kintsugi,” it quickly picks up with “Let The Light In” and “Fishtail.” She brings playful pop elements to the album by sampling Tommy Genesis’ song “Angelina” on the song “Peppers.” 

The 16-song album closes strong with “Taco Truck x VB,” a dark ballad that transitions to a trap remix of “Venice B****,” a song from one of her previous albums, “Norman F****** Rockwell!” She not only referenced but sampled the song from her previous album, a sort of homage to “NFR!” It’s a fitting closer — a lot of the album feels like past versions of Del Rey remixed and reworked, and this grimier version “Venice B****” was a satisfying end to the album. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this album. It’s a classic album from the singer-songwriter, very reminiscent of “Norman F***** Rockwell!” Although this album is strikingly quiet in comparison to much of her work, largely utilizing the piano and soft vocals in most of the songs, the poetic lyrics pair perfectly with her genuine emotion and breathy voice. She is very vulnerable on this album, expressing her fears about the future, relationships and legacy. This vulnerability allows listeners to deeply connect with her music, creating an intimate listening experience. She lets us become immersed into her world — explicitly stating this in the song “Peppers,” saying she’s allowing us to “skinny-dip in (her) mind.” However, the album is not free from faults. It features two interludes, one of which was “Judah Smith Interlude,” a four-minute recording of a pastor’s sermon, which felt like an odd and unnecessary addition to the album. Despite the interlude, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” is an authentic album showcasing her impressive songwriting, and I can’t wait to hear more from Lana Del Rey.

“Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd:” ★★★★★