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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

Lana Del Rey Does It Again

Photo Credit: Youtube Music

Lana Del Rey was named “Best Songwriter of the 21 Century” by Rolling Stone UK, and her new album “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd”, released March 24, 2023, goes to show that she is worthy of this title.

This album delves into personal subjects and can get very solemn at certain points, but Rey still doesn’t miss the chance to loosen up and have fun. These stark contrasts between the tracks may seem jarring at first, but the duality is purposeful, as this album is supposed to represent both a literal and figurative tunnel. 

The record’s first few tracks are the entrance to the tunnel. The songs are light and airy both lyrically content and in sound. As the tracks progress, there is an eerie change in the musicality. This middle section of the album is quite literally supposed to represent the midsection of a tunnel, the darkest place, as there is no illumination of any kind. However, as you continue to walk through, you see the light shining at the very end, and the energy in the tracks crescendo.  

“The Grants” serves as the opening to the album, and it does its job well. Rey references her deceased family members and promises to hold them in her memories. This track also introduces the consistent theme of religion throughout the album. The next song, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd”, is sonically similar to “The Grants” but introduces another common theme throughout the album, which is Rey’s love life, or lack thereof.

On the title track, Rey uses an old, abandoned tunnel (the tunnel under Ocean Blvd) to describe her love life. She repeatedly pleads, “When’s it gonna be my turn… Don’t forget me, like the tunnel under Ocean Blvd,” seemingly begging the man she loves to remember her.

The following track “A&W” is a standout piece in the album. The song begins with a squeaking acoustic guitar ballad, with Rey muttering some of the most depressing lyrics you have ever heard. Self-deprecation is present throughout this song. Unsuspectingly, the slow guitar ballad suddenly transitions into a jarring hip-hop beat with Rey rapping about how fed up she is with her lover.

Is it really a Lana Del Rey album if there isn’t a little controversy involved? Apparently not, as one of the album’s interludes sent Twitter into an angry frenzy.  

“Judah Smith Interlude” is a five-minute-long recording of a sermon by Rey’s pastor Judah Smith. Smith is a pastor at the famous Churchome, a mega-church attended by some of your favorite celebrities. Smith is a controversial figure as he has publicly denounced gay marriage, and the church at which he preaches has been accused of cult-like activity. This has led fans of Rey to be angered since a large portion of her fans are part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

After a few tracks, we stumbled upon the most emotional point in the album. “Kintsugi” is the story of accepting her Grandfather’s death. The song’s name derives from the Japanese practice of Kintsugi, which involves taking broken pieces of pottery and fusing them with melted gold to make a new, more beautiful piece, which is a metaphor in and of its own. 

Rey begins the song by reminiscing on when she realized her Grandfather was dying, “When you see someone dying, you see all your days flash in front of you, and you think about who would be there with you.” As the song continues, Rey delivers a warming message, stating that a broken heart is a good thing because that’s how the light shines.

From this point on, the process of leaving the tunnel unfolds. The remaining tracks become brighter and more carefree. The track “Margaret” serves as a wedding gift to Jack Antonoff, Rey’s friend and producer. In this track, which features Antonoff’s band, Rey tells the story of how Antonoff met his fiancé Margaret Qualley.

“Fishtail” is the beginning of the end, and calls back to the hip-hop sound heard in the second half of “A&W”. On this track, Rey expressed disdain for her relationship. She professes that her lover only seemed to care about her when she was sad, “Don’t you dare say that you’ll braid my hair if you’re not coming home to me, you want someone sadder.” This suggests that Rey has moved past the hardships in her life and is in a much better place.

This also becomes apparent on the next track, “Peppers”, where Rey completely lets loose. The track samples underground rapper Tommy Genesis’ 2015 song “Angelina”. It is incredibly jarring in the context of the album, both sonically and lyrically, but the feeling of this song is meant to signify that Rey has moved past her hardships.

Concluding the album is “Taco Truck x VB”. The track begins with the Taco Truck portion, a melancholy surf rock track, where Rey expresses her nonchalant attitude. Then, suddenly, the song transitions into a hip-hop beat, and we hear the iconic “Soundin’ off, bang bang kiss kiss” from Rey’s 2019 magnum opus track “Venice B**ch” off of “Norman F**king Rockwell”. This gesture of ending the album with such a meaningful song carried weight for Rey’s fans, considering the hardships she has been through since 2019.

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