North Texas Daily

Lana Del Rey spills intimate secrets in ‘Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd’

Lana Del Rey spills intimate secrets in ‘Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd’

Lana Del Rey spills intimate secrets in ‘Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd’
April 07
12:00 2023

In 2022, thieves broke into Lana Del Rey’s car and stole a bag. Inside were her laptop, camcorders and hard drives containing a manuscript for her unreleased 200-page poetry book and many song files.

In “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd,” Del Rey sings like she’s stitching the stolen songs back together, one word at a time.

One word defines the album more than any other: intimate. Matched with the frequent use of second person, it sounds like she is spilling secrets directly to the listener.

Del Rey’s ninth studio album features heavy piano, but that doesn’t mean her sound is stripped down. She experiments with sampling, spoken word and sound warping.

Opening the album, the piano in “The Grants” feels like it is aching to lift off the ground, before breaking open with bright strings floating above.

The titular song is a ballad about a mosaic-decorated tunnel, hidden under Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach, California. Del Rey sings like she’s speaking to a romantic partner, revealing tidbits about her life and the city around her. This type of lyricism persists throughout the record and continues with “Sweet,” which plays like a sung letter to her lover: “Do you want children? Do you want to marry me?”

At an hour and 17 minutes, this record is Del Rey’s longest. She plays at a patient tempo and stretches songs as far as they’ll go. Rather than sold-out stadiums, this album would be best played live at a small cocktail bar filled with bookshelves to bounce the acoustics off of.

At times in “Candy Necklace (feat. Jon Batiste),” it sounds like Del Rey is messing around at the piano with no set tempo or length to the song, ad-libbing with her timeless voice. One can imagine her at a piano, continuing songs long after they could be finished, like in “Kintsugi.”

“A&W” is a 7-minute song that starts as an acoustic confessional about being an “American whore.” A dramatic shift sends the song into a repetitive beat about a man named Jimmy, whose love is messy and drug-induced. The sharp change and long length of the song are similar to “Venice B—h” on Del Rey’s “Norman F—ing Rockwell” album, which shifts into a long instrumental section midway through the song and is sampled at the end of “Taco Truck x VB.”

“Fingertips” repeats beautiful sequences over and over, almost like a Catholic hymn that repeats to accommodate a long communion line. Religion is a recurring theme on the album, most notably in the “Judah Smith Interlude,” with over four minutes of preaching.

“Judah Smith Interlude” includes a sermon from Smith, a megachurch preacher at Churchome. The interlude sparked discourse among Del Rey’s fans, due to Smith’s past anti-LGBTQ comments. It is unclear what Del Rey’s meaning is with this interlude, however, because the singer can be heard giggling and making comments as though she is in the crowd, scrutinizing the sermon.

Religious themes continue in “Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing.” The long-winded title exemplifies Del Rey’s praying style on the album. “God, if you’re near me, send me three white butterflies” she prays.

Family also finds its place on the album. “The Grants” is titled after Del Rey’s real last name and ruminates about her family who has departed, and what one might take with them after death. In “Fingertips,” Del Rey addresses her siblings, instructing: “Charlie, stop smoking / Caroline, will you be with me?”

Del Rey longs for different aspects of her life that are just out of reach in “Fingertips.” She pleads with numerous connections in her life and recounts painful experiences throughout her teenage years and career.

“Let The Light In,” featuring Father John Misty, is the album’s most replayable track. The lyrics seem happy, but the music and vocals feel doomed and melancholic.

While Del Rey questions her own relationships, the lyrics in her collaboration with Jack Antonoff (as Bleachers) on “Margaret” show Antonoff’s confidence in his love with his fiancé, Margaret Qualley. “When you know, you know,” the two sing, a sharp contrast from Del Rey’s own relationship contemplations.

Fans looking for the old Lana Del Rey, reminiscing “Summertime Sadness” and “Diet Mountain Dew,” will be rewarded by waiting for “Peppers,” the album’s penultimate track. Del Rey samples Tommy Genesis’ song “Angelina,” repeating the catchy tune, “Hands on your knees, I’m Angelina Jolie.” A departure from the rest of the album, this song can be blasted in the car on a road trip.

Del Rey’s new album shows her lyrical mastery and artful dedication. The internalized, meditative songs will not be loved by all, but are best for someone with the patience to listen attentively.

Jack’s rating: 4/5

Featured Illustration by Makayla Sanchez

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Jack Moraglia

Jack Moraglia

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