tue 05/12/2023

Album: Lana Del Rey - Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Lana Del Rey - Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd

Album: Lana Del Rey - Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd

The latest from the sultry American singer is overlong but contains gold

Her expression says it all

Compared to her peers, Lana del Rey is mightily prolific. This is her eighth album since her breakthough 11 years ago (her ninth in total). Her last album appeared 15 months ago. There’s still much she wants us to hear. Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd is an hour-and-a-quarter long. It sprawls. It could do with an edit, but as so often when talented musicians sprawl, there are also gems.

The mood of the album is mostly built around stunningly deft piano, presumably from her usual keys person Byron Thomas. Many of the tracks are becalmed, delicate things. There’s a section of songs in the middle in this vein, whispered, soprano, personal, reflective. Whether these sweep you off, when you’re already eight songs into this chunky opus, will depend how much you connect with the cult of Del Rey. I drifted, pulled back in by the vaguely Kate Bush-like and preposterously titled “Grandfather Please Stand on the Shoulders of My Father While He’s Deep Sea Fishing”. This emanates a gospel feel which is present, on and off, throughout the album.

The seven-plus-minute-long “A&W” is as good as anything she’s ever done. A doomed epic about sublimating self-doubt into casual sex, it builds and builds around low key guitar and piano, its key line, “This is the experience of being an American whore,” dropping eventually to extended sparse electronica, before returning as a pulsing rap. It’s a great song by any standard.

Del Rey’s sometimes dark, violent and sensually overripe songs have been accused of being anti-feminist. For me at least, this misses their point. Her best work has the David Lynchian quality of numbly reflecting America’s Hollywoodised obsession with sex, violence and hedonism, via the prism of female glamour. In this vein, check out the title track and “Let the Light In”, the latter featuring Father John Misty. Other guests include New Jersey rocker Bleachers and Canadian internet-trap sensation Tommy Genesis, the latter on another highlight, “Peppers” with its excellent chant, “Hands on your knees/Angelina Jolie”.

Yes, there’s some great stuff here. Not sure we need it all, notably a couple of self-indulgent “interludes”. The short verdict: listen to a couple of her songs and you're struck by her excellence - listen to a whole load in a row and, for some reason, this starts to wear off. But the very best of this album is fantastic.

Below: Listen to "A&W" by Lana Del Rey

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