Lana Del Ray’s new release: let’s talk about it

Just this March, Lana Del Rey graced us with her new album Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd. Her ninth studio album is just two years out from her last, Blue Banisters. The album is a huge style shift for Lana from the last, labeling it as a rebirth is not a stretch. Blue Banisters was a more acoustic album that she never even promoted, and Did you know that there’s a tunnel under ocean blvd shifts to a more classical, eerie album. 

The album opens up with “The Grants,” featuring raw vocals from Melodye Perry and Pattie Howard, who previously in their careers sang background vocals with Whitney Houston. It’s a great opener for the album, as Lana sings about her family and religion, which most of the other songs in the album are about too.

“Sweet,” is one of my favorites from the album. It’s a love story that is honestly sweet. Its angelic tone that encapsulates the first act of the album off perfectly before it turns more bitter in “A&W.” It’s refreshing to hear something upbeat about her love life, but don’t get too comfortable because of what is next.

One of the highlights of the album is “A&W” which stands for American Whore. The song starts off as a piano ballad, a genre Lana had been stuck in for two years prior to the release of this song. As the song builds up, she sings of how good she looks and how that’s affected her life. Halfway through the song, it switches up. A trap beat kicks in a similar way to other songs that the producer of the album, Jack Antonoff, has also worked on.

With the “Judah Smith Interlude,” the album shifts; it becomes spooky, more thought-provoking, and less commercial. The Interlude doesn’t make much sense at first but is actually quite strategic on Lanas part. Her placing this after “A&W” was so intentional because of the discussion of lust. It acts as the framework for the album and not meant to be listened to on its own. Heavily criticized by fans because it seems so conservative, the preacher actually questions God’s intentions for humanity. Discussing how pathetic humans are compared to the universe leading to the question, “Why are you so infatuated with me?” How we have even placed ourselves at the same level as god. It’s all a part of the artistry of the album making it more about the concept.

Featuring Jon Batiste, “Candy Necklace,” continues the creepy energy with a very dark theme of love. It’s her addiction to love, initially sweet but when her obsession takes over it chokes her. The candy necklace represents scars and bruises around her neck from past partners. The glory and the turmoil of her partnerships are all wrapped into this song creating quite an unsettling picture. After “Candy Necklace,” Jon Batiste has an interlude that transports you right into the studio with Lana and Jon. 

“Kintsugi,” needs to be listened to a couple times to understand and appreciate it. I think that’s why it hasn’t really gotten its flowers yet and it wouldn’t for a while.“Kintsugi” is definitely the anthem for grief. The definition of kintsugi is when  pottery breaks and then it mends together but the cracks are still visible. It’s a perfect metaphor to be used with grieving. She uses light as a way to express her healing, singing “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” It transitions well with the next song, “Fingertips” which is all about her relationship with maternity. She discusses the turmoil she experienced with her mother and how that’s carried onto her wants of being a mother. She’s scared of being a mom because she acknowledges how much trauma she holds from hers. It all tells the story of when her mother sent her to a boarding school in Spain at 16 and what that entailed. She even censors mother as “my fathers wife,” disconnecting from her; she doesn’t even want to call her mom. Then continues the jab saying “What the f*ck’s wrong in your head to send me away, never to come back?”

The most enchanting song on the album is “Paris, Texas,” which uses an old SYML song for the piano riff in the background. Lana sings, like she does on every album of hers, how California (specifically Venice Beach) is her home. Her vocals are on this song and she paints a picture with the lyrics, further showing how much of a storytelling album this is. The song fits in with the spooky aspect of the album but stands out as one of the better ballads on the album.

The album picks up here in tempo after a slow middle album. The songs “Let the Light In,” and “Margaret,” featuring Father John Misty and Bleachers, respectively, fit together really well. Both songs sing of being hopeful for a better future and stationed in the belief that what’s meant to be is meant to be, and you just have to let it in with open arms; in other words, you just gotta let the light in! Both features work really well with Lana’s voice, especially “Margaret,” because it uses brass instruments in the outro music, something Lana typically doesn’t do but Bleachers does.

With “Fishtail,” there’s another transition into a different act of the album, switching from piano/string heavy songs into songs with a trap beat in the back, reminiscent of 2017-19 Lana instead of 2021-22 Lana. When the beat dropped in this song, it honestly was a relief as although her slower songs throughout the album had been good, they were getting tiring to listen to. The beat drop is impressive and gives a shattering effect to the switch in tone this song created. “Fishtail,” has some of the most memorable lyrics on the album, like “Maybe I’ll take my glasses off so I stop painting red flags green,” and “You wanted me sadder.” Lana definitely knew her target audience when she added those lyrics.

For the second-to-last track Lana uses an old Tommy Genesis song and merges it with her new song, called “Peppers.” Another stand out from the album, it’s the most danceable song and brings a carefree energy to the album. It’s incomparable to any Lana song from any other album of hers, and brings the idea to mind that she should collaborate with other women more often.

“Taco Truck x VB” is a striking end to the album. The guitar-led beginning of the song paints a picture of how in love Lana is with her boyfriend. It is more chill, but as a synth in the background develops, the song builds up into a remix of her 2019 song “Venice Bitch.” This version of VB is the “original and unheard” version of the song, according to Rolling Stone magazine. The large contrast between the relaxed start of the song and the amped up end of the song blends together well and could be played on constant repeat without being boring.