The longer the title, the better the record – Lana Del Rey’s ninth studio album


Lydia Winstead, Staff Writer

The album ‘Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd’ wasn’t written by Lana Del Rey. It was written by Elizabeth Grant.

I mean, of course it was. Elizabeth Grant is just Lana Del Rey’s actual name, so didn’t Lana Del Rey technically write the album? Just like all of the other albums under her name?

I wouldn’t say so. Since taking up the stage name in 2010, Lana Del Rey has changed a lot, both in her music and as a person. When many people think of “Lana Del Rey”, I think they mainly think of ‘Born to Die’ and ‘Ultraviolence’. While I think there is nothing wrong with these albums (they’re amazing) and they document Del Rey’s feelings and experiences of a time in her life well, she has really moved past her dark “sad girl” glamor eras now. Throughout the past decade, Del Rey has approached every one of her nine albums with an unbeatable unique sound. She has grown as a singer and songwriter, but most notably, she has grown as a person.

Maybe going from beginning an album talking about “dying young and playing hard” and “a war in my mind” in her opening song “Ride” in ‘Paradise’ to reassuring the listener that “it’s a beautiful life” in “The Grants” of ‘Ocean Blvd’ shows it the best: Lana Del Rey is no longer the person you first met.

Explaining my point from before, ‘Ocean Blvd’ was written by Elizabeth Grant instead of Lana Del Rey because the album is her most personal. ‘NFR’ is the only other to come close in that regard. ‘Ocean Blvd’ is heavily centered around family, something she hasn’t really explored before in her previous works. In “Fingertips”, she reflects on her past and looks to her future with the family members she has chosen to keep, and the ones she has cut off. Del Rey also describes her experience losing family members in the track “Kintsugi”.

She also remains very vulnerable when talking about love and relationships, while staying polished emotionally. Even if she is going through emotional turmoil, everything will still be “okay.” This is a feeling that is not always exuded before in previous records.

Along with the topics of family and love, Del Rey uses ‘Ocean Blvd’ to explore her experience writing music, and how the topics of her music have been received. Early in her music career, much of Del Rey’s material revolved around old Hollywood aesthetics and the American Dream, leading many to determine that her work is a satire of those topics. In “Fingertips” she expresses her reaction to those ideas, saying “They say there’s irony in the music/It’s a tragedy, I see nothing Greek in it.”

She could also be addressing the experience of writing music in the track “Let The Light In” describing “There’s so much ridin’ on this life and how we write a love song.” While this line could be highlighting any pressure she feels about writing music, it could be similar to a track on one of her previous albums titled “Love Song,” where a love song is representative of a relationship.

The album sonically does not take any huge leaps from her previous three albums, but it still sounds substantially different, and entirely Lana Del Rey. It is carried mainly by piano and strings with some trap elements sprinkled throughout. The music, being familiar in sound, helps carry a sort of hidden strength throughout the album, letting Del Rey’s lyrics shine through.

All in all, I think this album can best be appreciated by true Lana Del Rey fans, or at least people familiar with her music and can see her journey to get here.

Her closing track “Taco Truck x VB” completely shook me. The almost six-minute song is made up of two minutes of “Taco Truck” and an outro that best proves the point that this album can only fully be appreciated by true fans. The “VB” outro of the song is a remixed part of the third track of her seventh album ‘NFR’. Remixing “VB” and adding it to the end of her album I can only describe as beautiful. It is so beautiful because it is so nostalgic and comforting. I have no idea why but it carried a feeling of “everything’s going to be alright.” I don’t think it’s because it’s just so familiar, as she brings back one of her best songs to close the album. It’s repurposed in a way that speaks “Lana forever!”

Maybe that’s what this album is. A reminder that Lana Del Rey will continue to make raw and emotional music, while remaining completely, entirely herself.