Posted on: March 30, 2023 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Graphic by Emily Stephens

Inconsistency tends to hurt records. 

But in Lana Del Rey’s case, it works. Inconsistency is the cornerstone of her latest release, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd.”  The willy-nilly distraught nature of the album seems to prop up her vulnerabilities and let the light in on a side of Lana we’ve yet to see: intimately personal with little revealed, yet little held back.


Nick Stulga


By inconsistency, I mean that the album seems to get carried away from its quiet and restrained overall sound throughout, and some tracks, such as “Fingertips,” seem a bit out of place. These tracks are my least favorite, as they don’t contribute to the overall sonic bliss and continuity of the record. This track feels unfinished, drawing on way longer than necessary. Without a specific chorus to hold it together, it feels like it’s being dragged under the depths of the Ocean Blvd.

That’s not to discount the incredible artistry displayed across a majority of the album. Del Rey does a fantastic job of turning piano ballads into original creative works with her own touch.

The best examples come early on, like “Sweet,” which is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Del Rey digs deep into her adulthood with lines imploring her lover to extend their relationship beyond its shallow roots: “Lately, we’ve been making out a lot/Not talkin’ bout the stuff that’s at the very heart of things.” Del Rey is looking to extend her family line, posing questions about marriage and children in a somewhat nonchalant way during this song.

Cuts like these showcase the best qualities of Del Rey’s vocals, which pair nicely with the ballad-style instrumentals present throughout the record. She’s airy and silvery and breathy and uncaged. The reverb typically accompanying her voice only emphasizes its emotional depth and adds a more personal feel to a woman with a mysterious past in the recording industry.

The first leg of the album, right up until the “Judah Smith Interlude,” may be Del Rey at her very best. On “The Grants,” she opens up about her family a smidge (her real name is Elizabeth Grant). In the end, she croons, “My sister’s first-born child/I’m gonna take that too with me,” in a wispy breath of family rejoice and regret. 

Along with themes of family, we hear tracks referencing Del Rey’s ties to religion, including the aforementioned “Judah Smith Interlude” and “Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing.” The former seems out of place and drags out the album a bit much. If this album were cut down a bit, it would have helped the overall enjoyment.

The interlude has Instagram pastor Judah Smith explain human greed concisely, saying that his preaching is more about him than it is about God. But it feels out of place, like Del Rey just wanted to extend the album. It’s like she got out her phone thinking Smith’s sermon would be great to record for a “track,” if you could even call it that.

Lana Del Rey highlights a vintage style that feels more intimate in this visualizer for “Candy Necklace.”

There are some more gems hidden amongst the rubble and debris, however. “Candy Necklace” is concise and simple, yet complex, with an extremely catchy chorus and melody: “And I’m obsessed with this/All his candy necklaces.” I’m not exactly sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it sounds like someone trying to be philosophical about love, trying to avoid clichés, yet ironically becoming one.

She also details religion as it strangles a relationship she feels is all give and no take: “Hate to say the word, but, baby, hand on the Bible, I do/Feel like it’s you, the one who’s bringing me down.”

The piano ballads on this song are soft and supple, floating and weaving with Lana’s translucent vocals and painting a picture of relationship remorse and regret, yet giving it a romantic edge.

Father John Misty complements Del Rey well on another clichéd but impressive song from the album: “Let The Light In.” When the chorus comes in, you almost catch your breath and want to sing along.

Del Rey tends to overtake all of the features on this album, letting them simply linger as afterthoughts, as if she’s not quite ready to invite anyone else into her little world. The main line of the song is “Ooh, let the light in.” A variation of this is repeated on “Kintsugi,” a majestic ballad that outweighs “Fingertips” by miles. “That’s how the light shines in,” Del Rey softly whimpers throughout the track. I believe this is touching on her vulnerabilities, as right before she says, “It’s just that I don’t trust myself with my heart,” showing an uncertain and softer Del Rey. 

This uncertainty plays into the openness of her vulnerability across the record, showcasing a girl lost in so many things, but at the same time allowing herself to be found. She’s experimenting with her own music on “Taco Truck x VB,” growing into herself and accepting that she can be a true artist when she wants to be. This album seems to be painted with Del Rey’s tears and as we get to the end, they are starting to dry. By knocking on the door of her vulnerable side, she is exposing herself to the rough edge of the world and showing us a more direct and true version of herself. 

The record may not keep a solid foundation musically throughout, but its free-flowing chaos adds to the record’s sincerity and keeps it barely afloat, just enough for those around to pass it by and maybe give it a glimpse. Or maybe those will take it and lift it up, drying it out and giving it life as I did during my listen.

Because although this project isn’t necessarily perfect nor Lana Del Rey at her best, it’s her giving a most intimate and urgent message to the world: I’m not just an artist. I’m a strong woman with matured feelings and I want you to feel them, too.