Exploring New Depths In “Ocean Blvd”



Nathan Perera, Staff Writer

Recognized as the reigning queen of alternative music, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey released her ninth studio album “Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” on March 24, garnering widespread appraisal from fans for its self-searching pensiveness.  

Arguably her most ambitious record yet, “…Ocean Blvd” features moments of mesmerizing melodies, introspective lyricism, and elegantly laid instrumentation. In the record, Del Rey unorthodoxly melds folk ballad into an eccentric trap tune, layers bitter piano melodies with hyperactive chants, and makes a seamless transition into a Christian sermon (disguised as an interlude). Despite testing the limits of her artistry with such vivid experimentation,  Del Rey ties “…Ocean Blvd” into an eloquent, touching, and incredibly profound album. 

Described by Del Rey herself as her “most conversational album,” “…Ocean Blvd” strays from her traditionally risqué sound and navigates themes of family, grief, and heartache. The album opens with a gospel chorus in “The Grants,” a reflective song about the tenderness of familial relationships, followed by the poignant yearning for remembrance in “Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd,” the title track of the album. 

The lyrics allude to an actual tunnel no longer in use in Long Beach, California; “When’s it going to be my turn?” she sings, questioning whether she too will fade away from the public eye. The song hones in on Del Rey’s mature, reflective side—instead of the wild, grunge aesthetic Del Rey’s music is known for, the title track’s emotional significance and metaphorical connection to the Ocean Blvd tunnel solidifies the album’s graceful presence in her discography. 

“Paris, Texas,” is a hauntingly dreamy track fans have connected with “Coraline” for its resemblance to the airy, delicate sound of the animated film’s score. The song explores her emotional connection with small, “insignificant” towns like “Paris, Texas” and “Florence, Alabama,” that hold memories of wilting relationships and eerie nostalgia. 

Though sonically “…Ocean Blvd” is quieter than her most recent records, Del Rey is not afraid to experiment with avante-garde production and take risks with strange, eccentric lyrics. At a bold length of seven minutes, “A&W” begins as a psychedelic, folk-ballad track until abruptly dropping a trap beat, buzzing with abnormal, hypertuned chants. “Jimmy, Jimmy, cocoa puff, Jimmy, Jimmy ride,” Del Rey repeats, as prickly strings and sparse claps back her vocals.  

Meanwhile, alternative-pop track “Peppers” (feat. Tommy Genesis) opens with a clever sample of Genesis’ 2015 song “Angelina,” and surprises listeners with addictively comedic verses — “My boyfriend tested positive for COVID, it don’t matter, We’ve been kissing, so whatever he has, I have.”   

In the grand finale of the record, Del Rey doesn’t halt with unconventional lyrics and . “Oh, that’s why they call me Lanita, When I get down, I’m bonita,” she sings in “Taco Truck x VB,” a track that samples “Venice B—-,” from her previous album “Norman F——– Rockwell!” The second half of the song revisits the 2019 folk-pop track, completely transitioning the song into a revamped version of a Del Rey classic. 

“…Ocean Blvd” has “Lana Del Rey” written all over it — ethereal melodies, entracing instrumentation and evocative lyrics — yet Del Rey’s risk-taking experimentation separates the record from her legendary discography.