On her longest and most intimate record yet, Lana Del Rey’s Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd reflects on her wandering through the darkest moments of her life towards the light. Lana’s latest is a series of hidden unsent letters with harrowing themes of death and the afterlife, the strength of familial bonds, and self-scrutiny. Within 77 minutes, Ocean Blvd embraces orchestral gospels, nostalgic piano ballads, and alluring vocal melodies.
Opening track “The Grants” is a delicately sung homily that serves as a forewarning for listeners, and Lana herself, of the difficult road ahead. The pre-chorus and chorus set the tone for the rest of the album as Lana grapples with the memories of her life and loved ones. “Doin’ the hard stuff, I’m doin’ my time,” goes the second verse, a mellow nearly-spoken word with enchanting gospel vocals, “I’m doin’ it for us, for our family line.” Long-time listeners of Lana will resonate with her for what this album is, deep contemplation on her career and the moments it took to get here.
At seven minutes, “A&W” merges Lana’s innermost thoughts with the wildness of her social image. It begins as an acoustic folk referencing her notable Americana pop roots then transitions into a trap mix reminiscent of her Born To Die-Lust For Life-Honeymoon days. “Ask me why, why, why I’m like this / Maybe I’m just kinda like this,” she sings before switching to “But I don’t care, baby, I already lost my mind / Jimmy, if I lie it up, find me in the club.”
On the first listen, “Kintsugi” gives the impression of a stream of consciousness based around Lana’s family history and the weight of dealing with death. The following listens show the depth behind track eight as Lana continues to carry her trauma; while acknowledging the cracks in her grief to let the light in. “It’s just that I don’t trust myself with my heart / But I’ve had to let it break a little more / ‘Cause they say that’s what it’s for.”
Lana removes the veil on her internet persona with “Grandfather,” to reveal that Lana isn’t simply a moniker, but her reality. Granted the title is lengthy, if her grandfather were to complete the demand then he and Lana’s father would represent the singer’s characteristics. “It took somebody else to make me beautiful, wonderful / As they intended me to be / But they’re wrong.” The four minute ballad is a patient meditation on critical misinterpretations of her past and the desire to remain visibly hidden. Despite years of being dismissed, Lana preaches authenticity and specificity to herself and her audience.
Closing with “Taco Truck x VB”, Lana’s new level of truthfulness emphasizes that she remains ecstatic and high on the rush of life. In the first half, Taco Truck serves as lessons learned from past criticism. The post chorus (“I know, I know, I know that you hate me”) transitions into a heavy bass version of VB, which reminisces on who Lana once was. Ocean Blvd is an earnest introspection on stumbling through the mosaic tunnel of grief in hopes of reaching the light or afterlife.