Lana Del Rey’s Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd album review

Photo by: Brenden Cowan

Rating: 4/5

March 24 was a day of celebration for all the beautiful, depressed women in this world with Lana Del Rey’s ninth studio album speaking to their souls., 

Lana Del Rey’s latest release, Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd,relies on graceful, soft piano melodies that Lana has been honing throughout her career, most notably in Blue Banisters (2021), and has mastered on this latest release. Del Rey also revisits elements of trap and rock on this project that were featured on other prominent works such as Lust For Life (2017) and Ultraviolence (2014). Whilst mostly remaining mellow in sound, upbeat moments in the record (“Peppers”) maintain the soft essence of the record and captivate the listener effortlessly.

Del Rey’s latest project also shows an unquenchable eagerness to reference her past self, not only through self-referential lyrics regarding her persona as an “American wh***” but also in the inclusion of her “Venice Bitch” and “Norman F****** Rockwell” demos from magnum opus, Norman F*****Rockwell (2019). While having no qualms about opening up about the past, the singer-songwriter extends the reach of her poetry to include new perspectives on the afterlife, her ancestors and traditional romance on this latest LP.

As for collaborators in the album, Del Rey’s voice was accompanied in several tracks by artists such as Father John Misty, Bleachers, Jon Batiste and Tommy Genesis. Surprisingly, all collaborations in Ocean Blvd masterfully fit into the aura Lana creates on the record; each artist’s voice can shine without ever overpowering Lana’s vocals or central presence in the tracklist. As for the best song with a featured artist, “Let the Light In (feat. Father John Misty)” takes the crown. That being said, all songs that include a featured artist are worth carefully listening to on the album.

Remarkably, Del Rey seems able this time around to fit any kind of odd or corky ideas and themes into a muscular song as in the case of “Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing.” Here, Lana can be heard angelically singing out to God and her grandfather to ask them to please care for her father while he looks for fish in the deep sea. She also inserts herself in the story as she reassures God and her grandfather that she is asking for their help with good intentions, despite “regrettably [being] also a white woman.” As random as the song’s theme may seem at first glance, Lana’s fascination for the religious and the afterlife is carried consistently throughout the album.

In the opening track ofOcean Blvd, “The Grants,” Del Rey sings about the most important treasure one can take to the afterlife, it being one’s memories, as her pastor told her. In rejoicing in the idea of taking good memories with oneself after death, she promises to her lover and her family that she will take “mind [memories] of you with me.” Likewise, she includes a figment of a sermon preached by pastor Judah Smith in the “Judah Smith Interlude,” where he talks about God’s ability to give people the love for things they have lost the desire for while enthusiastically confessing his commitment to preaching is mainly for himself and not others. 

Religion taking on a positive air by Del Rey in Ocean Blvd is particularly interesting, as her relationship with religion has continued to shift throughout the years. In earlier works such as “Gods and Monsters” from Paradise (2012), Lana proudly denounced that she and God don’t get along, going as far as singing, “God’s dead, I said baby that’s alright with me.” At the very least, seeing her views on religion shift intrigues the audience, especially as it makes for a great storytelling device in her discography and a crucial theme in Ocean Blvd.

If you have the luxury of sparing approximately an hour and twenty minutes of your busy schedule to explore the wonders that the tunnel under Ocean Blvd has to offer, ensure you give Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd a careful listen.

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