My first experience of Lana Del Rey was seeing the music video for “Blue Jeans.” It must have been about 2013 and it appeared on one of those channels dedicated to chart songs. I remember being captivated by the shadows in the water and by the luxury dripping from Del Rey’s vocals. I have sought out her art ever since.
A few months ago, back in January, the track listing for this ninth studio album was announced. We have been exceptionally lucky with the rate at which we are gifted new music, with this being Del Rey’s fifth album in so many years. Eagerly anticipated, intensely personal, and already a hit, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd is now available. Let’s go through the tracks!
1. “The Grants”
Released a few days ahead of the rest of the album, this opening track meanders along a family tree. The lyrics are about memories and the importance of family connections. Some moments in here might be common experiences, but Del Rey makes them personal, with unique memories and connections woven all the way through.
The gentle sound of this song is soothing, and very similar to the general sound of Blue Banisters.
2. “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd”
Naturally, this was the first song I heard of the album. It tore me to shreds immediately. There is something strong about the vocals, despite their delicate notes and vulnerable lyrics. Not only is this a relatable track, but it is autobiographical, touching on places and feelings and memories that exist within the artist.
It is the spectacular, swelling instrumental in the background, especially in the latter half, that really reaches out to grab you. I think this will be one of the more enduring tracks of the record.
“Sweet” has a beautiful, ethereal, almost orchestral feel to it. Del Rey asks us to ponder what we have made of our lives—“what you doin’ with your life?”; “do you ever contemplate where we came from?”—and sweeps us away into dreamy, calm waters.
There is a simplicity to this song but it feels unique somehow. Although it flows along like any of the others, it manages to catch you off guard with its evocative questions about children and marriage and vocals so lyrical that they would make sense without music, “remember where I’ll be, sweet in bare feet, you can find me where no-one else will be.” This song is laced with poetry and held together by Del Rey’s powerful writing.
A defiant take on romantic rejection, “A&W” hits us immediately with a melancholy that lasts right the way through. It is moody and sultry with a confidence clearly shining through. But it is the second half of the song, however, that I play on repeat. The bass and the rhythms are strong and the rhythm tempts you to sway along to it.
This seven minute song was released earlier this year, on Valentine’s Day, and had extra time to grow on us. That being said, and this is surely up for debate, I think this is the most catchy track of the album.
5. “Judah Smith Interlude”
6. “Candy Necklace”
This track has a lot of themes in it that are common to Del Rey’s discography. She sings about cinnamon, and about driving away from your problems. It feels a lot like some of the tracks on NFR, thematically, but it is a little more concise.
In the second half we are presented with heavy and fast piano melodies and this change of pace keeps the song interesting.
7. “Jon Batiste Interlude”
This is a sad track, one that feels heavy. The opening line tells us, “there’s a certain point the body can’t come back from,” and Del Rey sings to us about the heaviness in her chest and a year of frowns. We hear about mortality and fear. There is a lot of depth to this track but it took me three listens before I felt connected to it. A slow burn, but the fire is hot once it reaches you.
This song is a story, it guides us through a six minute sprawl of raw emotion, personal narrative, and relatable imagery. The words that struck me the most were, “tracing fingertips over plastic bags.” These words can mean different things to different people, but most of us have, at one point or another, felt awkwardly human whilst messily packing up our things to move from one place to another.
10. “Paris, Texas”
This song is beautiful. It is summery, nostalgic, and the perfect music to listen to alone in the evening. It is the backing track to life, a song which carries you through memories and offers you nostalgia, gently. It grew on me until it was one of my most played songs.
The track samples SYML’s, “I Wanted To Leave,” which holds themes of solitude and escapism. Del Rey sings about letting her heart break and we can feel the lessons and the maturity through the lyrics. The melody is breezy and calm, but it holds the weight of the words strung along it.
11. “Grandfather Please Stand on the Shoulders of My Father While He’s Deep-Sea Fishing”
It was the fast, trippy, sultry songs that helped me to fall in love with Del Rey’s music a decade ago, but, during this slow piano ballad, I felt goosebumps in the soaring notes and the storytelling pulled at nostalgia and memories inside me.
I caught a little bit of saxophone in here, which I thought complemented the often jazzy vibes in Del Rey’s music. It blended well and gave this track something extra.
12. “Let the Light In”
Track 12 is a pretty duet with Father John Misty from the perspective of two people who keep going back to one another. The resentment feels muted and the tone is resigned. The story has a level of acceptance to it and the song is very easy to listen to. I love the blend of the two voices.
“Margaret” is a personal song, based on the upcoming marriage of Del Rey’s good friend, co-writer, and producer Jack Antonoff.
I love the mood of this track, and the delight Del Rey feels about the successful romance of a close friend. Antonoff’s voice joins her. It is delicate, beautiful, and emotive. Definitely a strong track.
Already emerging as a fan favourite, “Fishtail” is an interesting song, with a beat change that engages you in the midst of an already strong song. It uses a lyrical idea that is repeated later, in “Peppers,” relating to “skinny dipping” inside a mind. I love the imagery of this, and the idea that you can go into your mind (or someone else’s), completely freely and allow yourself to feel everything that is going on in there.
I think this is another track that will hold as a firm favourite.
The last two tracks of the album are a little faster and more reminiscent of older Del Rey work. Personally, this went out with a bang and, so far, it is these two tracks I have been playing the most.
A fantastic collaboration with Tommy Genesis, this song has some of the punchiness that used to come with older Del Rey tracks. There are a lot of references to Angelina Jolie in the sampled sections from Genesis. Definitely a bop, and probably a song that will grow on listeners over time for its catchiness.
I can’t pretend to understand the simile and references of the chorus, but it’s a strong track either way.
16. “Taco Truck”
The layered sections of “Venice Bitch” (NFR) had me in awe. I was driving to work on the morning of release day, and was blown away by this re-work of a song I already adored. The familiarity was fun, but it was the new beats and percussion layers over these lyrics I already know that made each syllable pop from Del Rey’s mouth.
I will be listening to this a lot.
And that’s a wrap! I hope you have enjoyed the album as much as I, see you again for the next!