Music Review: Lana Del Rey enters new era with experimental album

Anabel Martinez
Managing Editor

As melancholic as Lana Del Rey’s music always is, her newest album “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard?”, released in March, is the most emotional and personal to date. 

Being a poet, Del Rey’s lyrics have always been beautifully profound, but this album hits emotion in a different way. At first glance at the album with the song “A&W” released as a single, I was left guessing even more about what the rest of the album would entail. The first time I listened to it, “A&W” sounded like two songs unrightfully mashed into one, but now it is one of my favorite songs on the album and a genius, underrated song with lyrics that made me stop in my tracks.

Being sexualized and shamed throughout her life, she takes charge of the label “American whore” in “A&W.” The first half of the seven-minute long song feels dedicated to her younger self, reflecting on her innocence and that being taken away by abuse. She repeats, “This is the experience of being an American whore” before transitioning into a contrasting hip-pop beat with references to an old 60s song in what feels like a representation of her current, mature self.

This theme follows throughout the rest of the album, embracing sexuality and innocence all in one in what feels like a hug to her past self and a kiss to Del Rey’s new era. 

This new album lies heavily on piano melodies, giving a softer sound than some of Del Rey’s previous work. “Paris, Texas” touches on the idea of tiptoeing around in places where one does not feel they belong. Lyrics about struggling to find a place to call home dances on high piano notes with a sample of “I Wanted to Leave,” a piano instrumental by SMYL.

It is difficult to choose a favorite song on this album, but “Let the Light In” might be a close one. It is a sweet ballad that encapsulates what Del Rey’s music makes us daydream all about – love. In albums like “Born to Die” and “Ultraviolence,” love is often associated with lust and toxicity, but “Let the Light In” perfectly tells the story of pure, innocent love between two people who have finally found peace in each other. 

However, it would not be a Lana Del Rey album if she did not bring back her “Ultraviolence” persona at some point, which she delivered in the second to last song of the album. In “Peppers,” featuring Tommy Genesis, she dives deep into her signature lyrics about a boyfriend of hers, late night drives and living carefree. 

Del Rey is the queen of references and samples, and she never fails to reinvent them in a genius way. Something interesting about the album is that she even references her own previous songs, again feeling like an ode to younger versions of herself.

In “Taco Truck x VB,” she reimagines her song “Venice Bitch” from the album “Norman F****** Rockwell!” with a hip-pop track behind it, an element she has been experimenting with in her latest albums.

“Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard?” has allowed Del Rey to find her new sound and settle into a new version of herself. In this experimental and vulnerable album, she proved that she is an ever-evolving artist and I can only wait for more music from her to come.

Anabel Martinez can be reached at anabel.martinez2@laverne.edu

Anabel Martinez is a senior digital media major with a concentration in film and television, and a journalism minor. She serves as the managing editor overseeing all of the Campus Times sections and was previously editor-in-chief in Spring 2022.

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