Label: Polydor Records
Released: 24th March 2023
There isn’t anyone in pop with a more strongly defined aesthetic and universe than Lana Del Rey.
It’s an atmosphere that makes her work implementable to some, while it’s also exactly the thing that makes her beloved by so many. Operating outside the pop mainstream on her own island, Lana is incomparable, challenging, baffling and often brilliant on her sprawling ninth album, ‘Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd’.
Clocking in at a monster 77 minutes, this is a full-on immersive Lana experience. Extravagant, indulgent and richly beautiful, it’s a record that carries on the songwriting hot streak that she instigated on her previously defining masterpiece, 2019’s ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’. This time she’s going a bit deeper and a whole lot weirder. Spoken word interludes, dreamy atmospherics and some of the most evocative songwriting of her career combine on an album that seems to sum up a period of fierce creativity but is also laced with doubt about what comes next. The poetry of her lyrics is more advanced, and the subtlety of her airy gossamer sonic palate is more pronounced. The more you give into this album, the more you take away, but you’ve gotta put the work in. Nothing Lana gives you is easy.
There are moments of levity and relative lightness here, like the sweet sing-song lullaby of “Paris, Texas” or the warped alt-pop near banger of ‘Peppers’ featuring Tommy Genesis. Primarily though, the mood reflects the weightless gospel of the opening track ‘The Grants’, one of the finest moments of her whole career. The sound is cohesive and strongly defined in conjunction with her long-term collaborator Jack Antonoff.
‘Did You Know…” is a record whose charms slowly unfurl. The pace that its poetic resonance embeds is dependent on how invested you are with Lana and her style and sonic landscape. There are entry points but equally some dead ends. Divisive but ever more undeniable, Lana remains an artist like no other.