Review | Lana Del Rey’s new album is a beautiful and melancholic exploration of experience, love, and life

“Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” was released on March 24 and explores new musical and lyrical ground and sets itself apart from Del Rey’s previous music.


Bryon Houlgrave/The Register, Des Moines Register via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Musician Lana Del Rey performed at Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019.

Emma Gaughan, Arts Reporter

An emotional and intimate journey that recounts past experiences and reflects on life and love, Lana Del Rey’s ninth studio album “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” was released March 24. It contains 16 songs that each add something a little different to the album’s theme.

The album is musically diverse, containing notable themes of gospel music. The album was surprisingly religious, too. While Del Rey has used religious imagery in previous albums, this one embraces it more than in the past, as it includes a song titled, “Judah Smith Interlude,” which is a recording of a preacher over some quiet melodies. “Margaret” and “Sweet” also follow gospel musical themes.

Some songs met my expectations of Del Ray but still display her growth as an artist and a person. Other songs are definitely new moves from the artist, reflecting on who she has been and who she wants to be — sometimes by literally using old music, such as in “Taco Truck x VB,” which references her music from 2019.

The album’s first track is called “The Grants,” which starts off with a choral acapella section — a very different take on Del Rey’s usual sound. Once the main bulk of the song started, it sounded a lot more like a typical song from her. The rest of the album followed suit, with new and experimental sounds in between more of her old sound.

While some songs reflect on her character and experience as a human, others reflect on her media presence, such as “A&W” and “Fingertips,” which do a bit of both. These songs are reflective of her past, discussing her childhood and other past experiences that have stuck with her. Despite their similar themes, the songs have a unique sound, story, and lyrics, creating different feelings for the listener.

Del Rey’s reflections on past and present are represented in the music: melancholic and quiet for many of the songs, but at times heavier and darker for others. “Fishtail” and “Peppers” are songs with louder beats and darker tones, with “Peppers” standing out as a different tone from the rest of the album.

The album largely follows lyrically darker subject matter, discussing her life and other topics blatantly unfiltered. This is common in Del Rey’s songs. The artist is unafraid to say what she thinks and does not avoid any subjects. Her lyrics are open and honest, sometimes in a train-of-thought manner that feels deeply personal.

The album was overall beautiful and moving, a melancholic and emotional experience that certainly explored new forms of music. At times, I felt her songs were a bit boring and repetitive, but others were consistently interesting, making “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” worth the listen.