TRACK BY TRACK: Lana Del Rey's 'Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd'
Last Friday (March 24), Lana del Rey released her highly-anticipated 9th studio album Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd, with its title song and other selection, “A&W”, already out as singles. The cover, like a used record you could find for 3 dollars at the local shop, features Lana’s signature pout in black and white film-like photography. It’s a promising image for our queen of “Summertime Sadness”, and her already-released singles present a teaser for the reflective, melancholy moods that dominate the album. It features production help from Jack Antonoff, Mike Hermosa, Drew Erickson, Zach Dawes, and Benji, and is an album evenTaylor Swift herself escribed at a concert over the weekend as “just extraordinary.” With that team and Taylor’s seal of approval, Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd is set to be one of the top releases this Spring.
So let's break it down track by track!
1. "The Grants"
Kicking off Lana’s new album is a gospel-inspired intro, which slides into her opening ballad. Its orchestral soundscape is a rich under-layer for the flutter of her high, beautiful voice. The song is a reflection on family, heaven, and lost love — the title seems to be inspired by her birth name, Elizabeth Grant, and she references her sister and grandmother in the song. “The Grants” is slow but builds intensely to the end, where her own voice composes an entire church choir. It’s a song with a sort of quiet power and heavy Americana references. The best part is the break into the main chorus of the song, where her voice rises and breaks like sun through a cover of clouds. It’s a soft, yet radiant opening to the greater album.
Favorite Lyrics: “Do you think about Heaven? / Do you think about me?”
2. “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd”
The first song to be released for the album, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” offers a comforting familiarity. It’s another orchestral type of piece, but the light drums offer more rhythm and motion, which keeps a sense of pace. The story of this song is really where Lana shines, and her poetic description of the tunnel and how it relates to her is potent. The song is what she does best: a wistful sort of yearning. She asks listeners “don’t forget me,” and it’s a haunting refrain, especially considering the difficulty of maintaining relevancy as a woman nearing forty in the sometimes unforgiving music industry.
Favorite Lyrics: “It’s like Camarillo / Only silver mirrors / Running down the corridor...”
“Sweet” is a romantic break in the album, celebrating a sort of freedom and vulnerability. It’s a whispery sort of song like a secret told in a diary. The sound has a musical theater sensibility, and the mood is that of the sad but releasing solo after things have gone wrong. “Sweet” leans heavily on piano and Lana’s lilting voice. It’s a pretty and short piece that builds nicely into the established tone while also propping up her unique and ubiquitous persona.
Favorite Lyrics: “That’s where you’ll find me / In the sweet north country...”
With more guitar, A&W speeds things up and brings some excitement into the mix. Its fast, repetitive melody is like hyperventilating — dangerous but exhilarating. It’s her most risqué song on the album thus far and features a story centered around invisibility. Her voice sounds like Joni Mitchell toward the start, at odds with the dark subject matter, but in the bridge, she drops the sweet façade entirely to go into a heavily-produced, almost EDM-inspired instrumental. “A&W” morphs completely into a dance song at the end. It’s unexpected but totally Lana; one of the most interesting offerings on Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd.
Favorite Lyrics: “I haven’t done a cartwheel since I was nine / I haven’t seen my mother in a long, long time...”
5. "Judah Smith Interlude"
Mournful blues guitar, loud clapping, the scream of an angry preacher’s sermon, impressions of lust, love, the confusion of it all... In her interlude, Lana revisits themes of religion and sexuality which play powerfully in earlier songs. “Judah Smith Interlude” takes the threads of the work thus far and makes a theme statement about the entire album. Lana does not sing at all, but the piece is still clearly crafted by her. It’s complicated and different; more intense than many other things she has put out in the past.
Favorite Lyrics: “You're the star creator, you're the ocean maker / You're the whale creator, you're the rhino designer...”
6. "Candy Necklace" (feat. Jon Batiste)
FeaturingJon Batiste, “Candy Necklace” returns to piano but with a darker sound and eerie, minimal strings behind it all. Lana’s voice becomes almost childlike as she sings of love and obsession; there’s a preoccupation with eternal youth and what it means to feel alive. There are some segments which feel like a nursery rhyme, and the breathier, more “imperfect” vocal tuning makes the song feel more urgent and stranger. “Candy Necklace” ends on Batiste and a low, sinister note that slides into his interlude.
Favorite Lyrics: “White fire, cinnamon on my teeth...”
7. "Jon Batiste Interlude"
The second interlude starts quietly, before startling listeners with a radio-tuned shout. The song is less lyrical and acts more as a sound bath that builds into a fervor halfway through. It grows more psychedelic and synthetic at that point; the strains of vocals, barely coming through the heavy coat of production, offer a deep, oceanic feeling. The drums kick in at the end until “Jon Batiste Interlude” then mysteriously fades out of existence.
Favorite Lyrics: “I am your honey / You’re the sun dancing to the moon...”
“Kintsugi” is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold, and here Lana relates it to the healing process from loss and death. Her voice takes center-stage, and the instrumental remains largely background noise. “Kintsugi” is, above all else, intimate, and reveals Lana’s inner journey through a direct, plaintive plea to her father about missing someone. The song is hopeful and contains a certain lightness despite the heaviness of its topic.
Favorite Lyrics: “How do my blood relatives know all of these songs? / I don’t know anyone left to know the songs I sing...”
“Fingertips” continues the ideas of family and death from “Kintsugi”, only, instead of looking for light, “Fingertips” is yearning and confessional. It’s about growing up and wanting different things than what you got: the difficulties of loneliness when that very loneliness is what brought success. It’s a real and emotional break from the coolly melancholic persona of Lana del Rey; “Fingertips” is something that could only be written by her.
Favorite Lyrics: “It’s said that my mind / Is not fit, or so they said, to carry a child...”
10. "Paris, Texas" (feat. SYML)
The 10th song of Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd has a sound like that of Sufjan Stevens. “Paris, Texas” is a whimsical voyage with pretty, bell-like flourishes peppered throughout. It’s faster and ballet-like in the context of the album; so gorgeous and airy. “Paris, Texas” feels like it could be in an indie movie soundtrack, and its understated cinematic nature makes it one of the best pieces to come out of her new sound.
Favorite Lyrics: “When everyone’s star is bright / Brighter than you are / It’s time to go...”
11. "Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he's deep-sea fishing"
It seems like Lana is trying to bring back the early Fall Out Boy/pop-punk style for long song titles, but all jokes aside, this is another beautiful piece with a heavy vocal focus. The pretty swinging of the melody is breezy and blue; she’s full-up on imagery here, conjuring the picture of a girl waiting by the sea for her relatives to come home. The best part of the piece is the addition of horns toward the end, making a full and bright symphony to carry the rocking boat of the song to shore, complete.
Favorite Lyrics: “Some big men behind the scenes / Sewing Frankenstein black dreams into my songs...”
12. "Let The Light In" (feat. Father John Misty)
“Let The Light In” is a folksy ballad with a certain idle Summery-ness to it. It’s heavy on '60s influence in the twang of Lana’s voice and in the duet of the chorus, which sees her and Father John Misty's voices perfectly combine over the swells of piano and drum. It’s nostalgic and syrupy, a continuation of the balmy moods of the previous song.
Favorite Lyrics: “I just smile, 'cause, babe, I already know / You know I got nothin' under this overcoat...”
13. "Margaret" (feat. Bleachers)
With a feature from producer Jack Antonoff’s one-man bandBleachers, "Margaret" is about actressMargaret Qualley, Antonoff’s wife and Lana’s close friend. “Margaret” is choral in nature, a starry-eyed sort of waltz with a palpable love in it. It’s a sweet, slow song, with a heavy dose of conversationalism and hope.
Favorite Lyrics: “He met Margaret on a rooftop, she was wearing white / And he was like, ‘I might be in trouble'...”
“Fishtail” returns to the personal and sees Lana dissect her childhood — and her audience's desire for her to be sadder — in an airy, twinkling start. It deepens into a hip-hop-inspired sound with high production, a break from the light and vocal-focused sounds dominating the rest of the album. It’s a cross between the softness of her new album and the production of her first. It’s guaranteed to be one of the most popular on the album, and brings a cooler, more modern sensibility much needed among the saccharine romance of it all.
Favorite Lyrics: “You wanted me sadder...”
15. "Peppers" (feat. Tommy Genesis)
“Peppers” is a complete departure from all of the prior songs on the album. Its quiet, introductory bassline breaks into a hip-hop intro which melts into a staccato, breathy chorus. The fusion is strong in this one, and the psychedelic, Red Hot Chili Peppersinspiration directly referenced in the song does well to bring some excitement to the end of Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd. It’s the most fun and groovy song on the album, with a dose of the younger Lana’s "live fast, die young" sensibility.
Favorite Lyrics: “Got a knife in my jacket, honey on the vine / Baby, I'll bring the coffee if you bring the wine...”
16. “Taco Truck x VB”
The final track on the album starts bluesy and minimal before morphing to the rhythm of Lana's earlier song “Chemtrails Over the Country Club”. It breaks down from there into a Caribbean-inspired melody and then into an electronic, bass-driven segment. It takes fractals of Lana’s previous sounds and combines them into a lowkey sort of swing, where the production really gets to shine. The peak of the song occurs around the halfway point, where everything goes dark and intense — she then features an electronic rewrite of her song “Venice B*tch”, a well-placed reference. “Taco Truck x VB” is a fusion of two songs and brings to light two Lanas: the humble, soft romantic, and the controversial hitmaker. It summarizes the album perfectly and is an exciting callback for longtime fans.
Favorite Lyrics: “Met my boyfriend down at the taco truck / Pass me my vape, I'm feeling sick, I need to take a puff...”
Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd. is one of the most exciting albums to come out right now, so go stream it on your platform of choice and let us know what your favorite song is!