Columnist takes a deep dive into Lana Del Rey’s latest album.


“One, two, ready,” are the first words uttered on Lana Del Rey’s new album, “Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd.” It is her ninth studio album, and came out March 24, 2023.

The melodic song “The Grants” opens her album, and is full of harmonious piano chords alongside gospel vocals that make you feel like you’ve been taken to church. “The Grants” is mainly about her family and her memories of them. Del Rey was born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, and changed her name when she released her 2010 album “Lana Del Ray A.K.A. Lizzy Grant”. After that, she changed the spelling of her last name from Ray to Rey. The song encourages you to hold your family close. Del Rey
echoes this: “My sister’s firstborn child, I’m gonna take that too with me. My grandmother’s last smile, I’m gonna take that too with me.” “The Grants” is a perfect opening to this album, as the rest of the album contains many other themes of family, reminiscence and unapologetic self-acceptance.

As well as having wonderful piano ballads like “The Grants”, “Sweet”, or “Paris, Texas”, Del Rey created even more enticing rap-like songs, such as “Taco Truck x VB” or “Peppers.” In both of these songs, she calls back to some of her old music and shouts out others’ music. In “Taco Truck x VB”, she features parts of “Venice B*tch” from her 2019 album “Norman F***ing Rockwell!”, and in “Peppers”, she samples Tommy Genesis’s work. When I listened to both songs for the first time, my jaw was on the floor. Del Rey is creating new genres of music, making revolutions around her predecessors. She quotes her cynics in “Taco Truck X VB”: “Before you talk let me stop what you say/ I know, I know, I know that you hate me.” This new era of Del Rey is one that I am excited to see.

Del Rey featured many artists on this album, including Jon Batiste, Father John Misty, Bleachers and even a priest named Judah Smith. Her song with Father John Misty has quickly grown to one of my favorite songs ever. Misty and Del Rey were my top two artists on my Spotify Wrapped last year, so I was extremely excited about this one. Titled “Let The Light In”, the song gives into some of the overall themes of this album: self-acceptance and love. It explores the simplicity and sentimentality of relationships and certainly made me jealous of the singers.

In addition to “Let The Light In”, I’d say the other must-listens from this album are “Sweet”, “A&W”, and “Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing.” I’ll abbreviate the latter- just to preserve space. “Grandfather” is bittersweet; it references Del Rey’s struggles with being taken seriously by the world, and ties that together with an analogy of asking God to send butterflies to
protect her and her family and keep them known. Del Rey croons “I know they think that it took somebody else to make me beautiful”, confronting accusations of inauthenticity surrounding who she is. Her voice is gentle, yet assertive and it only created more respect in my mind for Del Rey.

But while “Ocean Blvd” pleasantly surprised me with many songs, there were others that fell short. “Judah Smith Interlude” was more creepy than fascinating, and I found myself wanting to skip it not even a minute in. Similarly, while the song “Kintsugi” featured satiny, clean vocals by Del Rey, it was too repetitive for me and I just got bored.

I have to say this: this album might take a while to truly appreciate. If you are the type of person that enjoys getting hands-on and overanalyzing lyrics, and reading about artists’ past (like I do), then this is a perfect album for you. I know others, though, that listened to it once and put it away. Del Rey did not create this album for an uninvolved listener, and I think it would do well to listen more than once.

In short, I was extremely satisfied with this album. It’s grown into one of my favorites of hers, and the flow of it is comparable to the gentle flow of a stream. “Ocean Blvd” is a tender, specific album that will stay with you forever. It’s full of callbacks to her previous works, odes to her favorite artists and lyrics that won’t get out of your head. It takes you through Del Rey’s life; both the nitty-gritty and the beautiful parts (love, family and healing), and is a testament to her growth within her ten years of producing music. Nine albums into her career, Del Rey is still inventing herself, and it will never get old.