Album Review: "Did you know that there's a tunnel under Ocean Blvd"- Lana Del Rey
Did you know that there was a tunnel under Ocean Boulevard? I honestly had no idea until Lana Del Rey teased her new album "Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd" with her single titled the exact same name towards the end of 2022. With her last album "Chemtrails Over the Country Club" being released in 2021, her new music was highly anticipated by fans. It's in this album that it seems Lana has let us take a step into her life. She is no longer solely showcasing her art. This much is alluded to in that the only promo done for this album was a giant billboard put up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Lana quickly addressed speculation as to why she did this on Instagram by simply writing "it's personal." Not too much detail while also being extremely direct is classic Lana Del Rey: acknowledging the situation but also leaving a lot up to the imagination. She follows that same theme throughout each song on this album.
Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd Sweet
Judah Smith Interlude
Jon Batiste Interlude
Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing
Let The Light In
Taco Truck x VB
Every track that Lana puts out has been alluding more and more to the elusive question "Who is Lana Del Rey?" She is known for her mystery, and she is able to bring that mysterious nature into her music skillfully. Everything from the strategic lyrics, instruments, and rhythms she decides to use, and even the order of songs on each album goes towards the mythical aura she has crafted for herself over the years. The push-and-pull dynamic she has created by feeding her audience information about herself, but never too much, has given her a place in the spotlight for many years. We all want to know who she is, and with each album, she has become more and more ready to tell us. She is Hollywood noir, as vinyl of an aesthetic as vinyl comes. She is Lana Del Rey.
The album begins with "The Grants" which is referencing Lana's family (Grant is her family name). Listeners are transported into her family life with the beautiful acoustic voices pulling us into the song. The harmonies that bring us to the first verse are mesmerizing. We get the insight here that Lana had many obstacles to overcome where they were concerned, as she references past songs in this intro as well with the lyric "Doin my time". Song number two is the teaser "Did you know that there's a tunnel under Ocean Blvd," and it set the scene for us months before the album release. The soft tone of the song with Lana's incredibly unique voice in the foreground is a theme that transpires throughout the rest of the album.
"Sweet" gives us even more of a clue into her past by informing us that "it's set in the Midwest" as she continues to details more about herself than we have ever known before. "A&W" incorporates an acoustic guitar on the album for the first time as the prominent instrument, as every other song up until that point was piano-based. We continue to learn more about who Lana is and what has shaped her identity, something that very many of us are enjoying learning about. The song picks up in pace about two minutes in, which changes the entire theme of the track as well.
Now we have arrived at the first interlude of the album, "Judah Smith Interlude." It includes a lot of biblical verses, and overall holds many allusions to God and the bible itself. It makes sense, as Lana has made it clear that she has an unwavering belief in God. "Candy Necklace" (feat. John Bastide) follows this first interlude. This song, in my opinion, holds one of the more beautiful piano melodies on the album. It is also the only track existing between two interludes; there is clearly a heightened importance. Lana has always been a very skilled weaver of metaphors, and that talent shines through in this song. She metaphorized a toxic relationship into a candy necklace, a comparison that many of us would never have thought of. The candy symbolizes the sweet and seductive, while there is allusion to a noose in the necklace component. "Jon Bastide Interlude" closes out this section of the album with deep and rich musical rhythms that lock us in for the second half of Lana's latest masterpiece.
When you get up to "Kintsugi" and "Fingertips," you are being let inside the innermost workings of Lana's brain. Both are long tracks, and both offer the most insight into Lana that we have gotten so far. Lana told Rolling Stone in an interview that "Fingertips" wasn't a good song, but that it "explains everything." It most closely resembles a diary entry, as Lana dives into all of her thoughts on motherhood, family, and death. It goes through both her innermost struggles and her external troubles with her family that she has had over the years. "Paris, Texas" follows this track as an escape from the past she just went into detail about. She sings, "The more you know, it's time to go," signaling that it was time for a more light-hearted track on the album, mentioning three cities that are of importance to her.
"Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he's deep sea fishing lyrics" introduces one of Lana's most famous metaphors, a butterfly, within the first few seconds of the song. She pleads with God to send her three white butterflies if he is near, showing how in-touch Lana is with her religious side. "Let The Light In" (feat. Father John Misty) is another romantic allusion in this album. It hints at the need for a breakup rather than a makeup in this conflict-filled relationship, despite how much love exists between the two partners. “Margaret” (ft. Bleachers) pivots back to Lana's close family, and how her definition of the bond extends beyond blood. "Margaret" is the name of Jack Antonoff's fiancée, which makes this essentially a song in honor of Jack.
We are reaching the end of the album with "Fishtail," a title with double meaning. On the one hand, it could be referencing a very popular braid, as Lana has worn a brain many times throughout her years in the spotlight. What would require deeper knowledge is the other meaning of the word, which is a term in driving where the driver is making erratic movements. This would translate here into the disposition the person this song is for has towards Lana. He doesn't have the purest intentions. “Peppers” (ft. Tommy Genesis) is a song heavily referencing Angelina Jolie. It seems the overall vibe of this song is the singer portraying herself as some sort of "bad girl." The finale, "Taco Truck x VB" is a direct reference to her hit single "Venice Bitch" featured on her album "Norman F*****g Rockwell." The "Taco Truck" portion of this song serves as what seems like a love song on the surface, but actually delves into seemingly bad behavior. It is the "VB" side of things where the love comes in.
My personal favorite song on the entire album is "Paris, Texas" (feat. SYML) due to the fact that the song she sampled from them has been on my playlist since 2021. When I heard the intro to this particular song in the album, I was so excited that I dropped my phone on the floor. While this song holds a special place in my heart, I can honestly say that I think the entire album is beautifully done. While listening to each song back in order to craft this review, I fell in love with the album all over again. We have never known more about Lana than we do now, and I am so grateful that she was willing to share so much about herself in her beautiful music. This album is a must-listen; a theme that I hope she continues in her music to come.
Written By Molly Schiff
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