Longing Journey: Lana Del Rey is Back | free press

Longing Journey: Lana Del Rey is Back |  free press

The new album by Lana Del Rey moves between poetry, melancholy and serene hip-hop. It combines the old with the new – and with a surprising focus.

Since Lana Del Rey became famous in 2012 with the song “Video Games” and her official debut album “Born to Die”, she has shaped the sound of the last decade with melancholic pop that sounds like longing. On her ninth studio album entitled “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd”, the US musician once again proves that she can do much more than breathe sad indie anthems into the world.

Musically, the album is reminiscent of Del Rey’s very early compositions, when she released her first album in 2008 under the name Lizzy Grant. Even 15 years later, there are genre crossings and the joy of experimentation that became the signature of the 37-year-old. So it’s no wonder that she describes the album as one of her most personal. Well, that’s what many artists claim about their current work, but this actually goes way back to their roots. And the content is also surprisingly personal and informal.

Personal and profound

The opener song “The Grants” starts with gentle gospel sounds and introduces the main theme of the album: her family. She sings of the memories of her niece, grandmother and uncle that she will take to her grave. But she also deals with her own mortality several times on the album. In the title track, for example, Del Rey sings about not wanting to be forgotten, like the pedestrian tunnel under Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach, California. It was closed in 1967 but is still intact.

“All the mosaic ceilings are still perfectly preserved, but nobody can get in anymore,” Del Rey told the US magazine “Interview” in the run-up to the album release. For her, the inspiration for the album was the idea of ​​a beautiful tunnel that no one can enter.

The middle of the album features orchestral and piano ballads, which Del Rey describes as the album’s most personal songs. For example, in “Kintsugi” she processes the pain she feels from the death of her relatives. “Fingertips” in turn is reminiscent of her book of poetry (“Violets Bent Backwards Over The Grass”, 2020), because she also shares her innermost feelings in this song. “Will I ever have children?” and “Will my family be with me when I die?” Del Rey wonders in the song.

A 77 minute musical journey

The length of the album is a bit daunting at first, but at over 77 minutes in 16 tracks it turns out to be a well-considered journey. As the fourth track, “A&W” marks the first break in the musical journey through Del Rey’s world of thought. In the song about sexual self-determination and its media image, there is a rapid change in the middle from dark guitar pop to a trapbeat of massive, even aggressive bass drums and a more playful side with rolling hi-hat cymbals, which Del Rey had already played in previous productions – for example “Lust For Life” from 2017 – showed. At this point, the album turns from a yearning dream journey into a manic fever dream.

Partly arrhythmic and dissonant piano compositions (“Candy Necklaces”) fill the album with excitement. The two so-called interludes, which are around four minutes long, leave more questions unanswered than they answer. In one, the listener hears a sermon from a pastor, in the other, the Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer Jon Batiste (“We Are”) can be heard.

For one or the other, the middle part of the record may seem a bit tough and impenetrable. But those who stick with it will be rewarded in the end: “Taco Truck x VB” delivers a surprising new edition of their song “Venice Bitch” (2019), with “Peppers” and “Let The Light In” Del Rey delivers two very successful features Rapper Tommy Genesis and folk singer Father John Misty.

Familiar faces

In addition to these guests, the album also features well-known companions such as Jack Antonoff, who also works with Taylor Swift and has produced previous albums (“Norman Fucking Rockwell”, 2019; “Chemtrails Over The Country Club”, 2021). Producer Drew Erickson is also back after the last album “Blue Banisters” (2021).

“Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” isn’t an album to be casually listened to. Anyone who picks up an album by Lana Del Rey doesn’t necessarily expect that either. The record offers much more of a depth that doesn’t immediately become apparent after the first listen and doesn’t want to be fathomed. It is worth making the almost 80-minute journey. (dpa)


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