Lana Del Rey stays true to her style in new album


Justin Higuchi | Wikimedia Commons

Carol Chen

Elizabeth Grant, better known by her stage name Lana Del Rey, released her ninth studio album on Mar 24. “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” displays artistic growth and personal vulnerability across 16 tracks.

Like her previous two albums “Chemtrails Over the Country Club” and “Blue Banisters,” this album is described as an Americana record and follows a dreamy tune. Del Rey utilizes a range of piano ballads and guitar chords to create a heavy, melancholic atmosphere.

Throughout the album, Del Rey often alludes to struggles in her family. The opening track “The Grants” and “Kintsugi” pay tribute to Del Rey’s uncle who died in Rocky Mountain National Park. In “Fingertips,” she sings about her troubled relationship with her mother and her reliance on her father and siblings.

On another track, “A&W,” Del Rey reflects on her past relationships with soft vocals then suddenly shifts into trap beats. Similarly, Del Rey also brings back a track from her 2019 album “Norman F*cking Rockwell!” During the final track, “Taco Truck x VB,” an alternate version of “Venice B*tch” is combined into the song’s latter half.

Multiple guest artists such as Jon Batiste, Bleachers, Father John Misty, Judah Smith, Tommy Genesis, RIOPY and SYML were featured on the album. Frequent collaborators Jack Antonoff, Mike Hermosa, Drew Erickson, Zach Dawes and Benji helped Del Rey to produce the album.

The interlude starring Judah  Smith’s sermon has gained controversy due to Smith’s reputation. The preacher from megachurch Churchome has previously been criticized for his homophobic and anti-abortion views. However, some listeners have interpreted the interlude as ironic due to the sounds of Del Rey and her friend laughing over the preacher in the background.

Some of Del Rey’s longtime fans have not enjoyed her recent work with piano ballads.

“From a purely musical standpoint, this album can feel like a drag, ” Aaron Paskin wrote for Spectrum Culture. This was not unexpected, and Del Rey has commented on her personal decision to gradually shift away from her iconic 2010s pop style before.

“You can pray and pray and pray to feel unburdened, but for no explanation for why and when, all of a sudden everything lifts,” she explained in an interview with Rolling Stone UK.

Del Rey also stated that she began to see the world differently after retreating from social media in late 2021. “It was very important to me to not have any influence from the outside culture that didn’t resonate with me… To be more connected to what that path was going to be, I just needed to tune in more to my gut.”

Yet, Del Rey manages to keep her classic style of unique and humorous lyrics. The words “My boyfriend tested positive for COVID, it don’t matter/We’ve been kissing, so whatever he has, I have, I can’t cry” in “Peppers” goes along perfectly with the catchy chorus line “Hands on your knees, I’m Angelina Jolie.”

Del Rey manages to mix in both new and old elements of her music into the project. Although the album is not for everybody, “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” encapsulates Lana Del Rey’s own vulnerability and growth.