Reviews

Lana Del Rey “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” Album Review

Lana Del Rey's "Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd": A Melancholic Reflection on Love and Identity

Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd

Lana Del Rey

  • Genre: Alternative
  • Date: 24 Mar, 2023
  • Content: explicit
  • Region: NGA
  • Track(s): 16
  • A Polydor Records Release / An Interscope Records Release in the USA; ℗ 2023 Lana Del Rey, under exclusive licence to Universal Music Operations Limited

The prolific Lana Del Rey has released her ninth and longest album to date, which, despite being equally as massive as her most recent release, once again fails to capture the unforgettable beauty of earlier efforts. Despite a few standout songs, the 77 minutes of “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” are difficult to get through.

Again, Del Rey has chosen sparse instrumentation, forgoing percussion in favor of a strolling piano, an acoustic guitar, and swaying vocal melodies that disappear into thin air. The icy distance Del Rey has kept between herself and her fans feels wider than ever on this album, even if she sings brilliantly and will undoubtedly be acknowledged as a true voice of her generation – both in technique and disillusion.

Album Cover Art

Lana Del Rey &Quot;Did You Know That There'S A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, April 22, 2024

There’s this calm look of sadness spread over Lana’s face as she stares at the cam with her head propped up by her hand. The vintage concept of both the cover (designed to look like an antique 80s magazine cover) and Lana’s styling is in agreement with the vibe of the album.

Tracks and Features

The first track on the album, “The Grants,” is sort of a misdirection: it starts off with background singers Melodye Perry, Pattie Howard, and Shikena Jones practicing the song’s hook before, after almost a minute, the track abruptly changes into a melancholy Lana Del Rey piano ballad in the style of so many melancholy Lana Del Rey piano ballads.

One of the album’s many decisions that feels more perplexing than bold or difficult is this opening bait-and-switch. Del Rey’s impulses appear to be driven less by experimentation than by a desire to confound. Another is the placement of two protracted collage-style interludes between the album’s sixth song, “Candy Necklace,” which kills any momentum the first three songs manage to muster. She made it apparent she was on a musical path unlike any other at the time with songs like the slinky “Candy Necklace,” which features the coquette delivery from her 2012 album Born to Die and its Ultraviolence-era follow-up.

Compared to her last album, Ocean Blvd is inconsistent. This is partially due to the album’s filler songs like “Margaret,” which is a song dedicated to longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff’s fiancée, actress Margaret Qualley. This potentially nice gesture is undermined by the producer, who sings one of the song’s verses, making the whole performance too self-serving for its pathos to have the desired effect.

The album takes a spiritual, if not superfluous, turn on the overlong “Judah Smith Interlude,” a supposedly phone-recorded sermon from the celebrity pastor, speaking on-topic about “a life contaminated with lust” and begs God for assistance. Del Rey may be heard agreeing at times and giggling at others, implying that she taped the audio herself.

Songs like the outstanding “A&W” and “Fingertips” are two sides of the same life-storytelling coin. The name “A&W” refers to the phrase “American whore,” not the root beer. In contrast to “A&W,” which focuses on the public and the artist’s relationships, “Fingertips” finds the singer talking to a mirror and relying on her adored father and siblings, Charlie and Caroline, for support. With the help of “Fishtail’s” trap snare and synths and Tommy Genesis’ entrance on “Peppers,” the second half enters a stunning new space.

The album’s conclusion, “Taco Truck x VB,” adds a pleasant note because it seems like Del Rey is seeing someone new, whom she meets at the taco truck, even though the song features what must be her lyrical low point. The song ends with bass-driven fragments of “Venice Bitch,” which serve as a nostalgic look back on the past.

Tracklist

NO

TITLE

TIME

1 The Grants 4:55
2 Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd 4:45
3 Sweet 3:35
4 A&W 7:13
5 Judah Smith Interlude 4:36
6 Candy Necklace (feat. Jon Batiste) 5:14
7 Jon Batiste Interlude 3:33
8 Kintsugi 6:18
9 Fingertips 5:48
10 Paris, Texas (feat. SYML) 3:26
11 Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing (feat. RIOPY) 4:00
12 Let The Light In (feat. Father John Misty) 4:38
13 Margaret (feat. Bleachers) 5:39
14 Fishtail 4:02
15 Peppers (feat. Tommy Genesis) 4:08
16 Taco Truck x VB 5:53

Album Theme

The album begins with recurring themes about smoldering love, bubbling infatuations, and changing identities. Del Rey has crafted this album, one of her most personal, as a fractured mirror reflecting her countless desires and sorrows.

Production Credits

Producers on the blockbuster project are Benji Lysaght, Drew Erickson, Father, Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey, Mike Hermosa, Nick Waterhouse & Zach Dawes.

Stream

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