Review: Lana Del Rey’s New Album “Did You Know There’s a Tunnel under Ocean Blvd?” 


Photo courtesy of Beatriz Alvani/Creative Commons/via Flickr

Lana Del Rey promotes music at the Planeta Terra Festival in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Del Rey has since garnered millions of fans all over the world and has been nominated for six Grammys. 

Leila Simeon, Graphics Editor

Lana Del Rey is no stranger to scrutiny, having been debased in interviews and mocked on SNL for her hyper-feminine, noir-ish persona. Del Rey’s music is a mixture of Americana fixations, indie moods, with pop undertones. Though debuting in 2012, Lana Del Rey became popular around 2014 through the emergence of the Tumblr aesthetic. Over the years, Del Rey’s music has gone from melodramatic and death glorifying to fantastical and reminiscent. Rey divulges further into her transformation with her new album “Did You Know There’s a Tunnel under Ocean Blvd?” 


“Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd?” is like flipping through Lana Del Rey’s secret diary. Del Rey described the writing process as a “great unburdening in her psychic space.” It is ultra personal, with each track telling a different story. A true poet, Rey opens up to audiences through her vivid lyricism, going on about names of people, streets, locations, and relatives as traveling through a blast from the past, as if we were close friends.


Audibly the album is in a realm of its own. The Americana folk sound is lifted up with gospel choirs and then abruptly thwarted by its synth-pop undertones. Lyrically, though, Rey has brought new meaning to themes explored in her previous albums. “Born to Die” was a sad melodrama about, you guessed it, death. Her 2021 album, “Blue Banisters” explores more touchy topics like familial ties which Ocean Blvd explores more closely. Diving into, what many would call, her origin story. 


Through the many tracks of the album, Rey discusses themes closely tied to her life. The two-sided song, “A&W,”is a reference to the phrase “American wh*re,” which Lana Del Rey relates to having been scrutinized for not settling down despite being in her thirties. The song explores the singer’s sexual development with an undercut of heartbreak peeking through. The slithering song, “Candy Necklace” is a coquette dream. It’s vividly reminiscent of her debut album Born To Die and Ultraviolence. 


The lyricism of Ocean Blvd is truly magnificent. Some of Del Rey’s darkest beliefs soak the songs, but it is not the opacity of the lyrics but how much the singer is willing to let out. Grief, love, and contempt, are part of the many complexities of the human experience. Though the album is twisted, subverted, and mournful it is also relatable. We all have a story to tell through the people we meet and have left behind. Ocean Blvd is constantly interrupted with ruminations and sound flips. The songs, just like the stories being told are torn at the seams; tethered. and frayed with unhemmed edges. The stories Del Rey tells are not perfect, but they are hers.