Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Lana Del Rey’s Most Open Album Yet



Lana Del Rey’s best albums unfold boundlessly: gathering U.S. pop culture references over decades, shredding toxic relationships detail by detail and exploring the intimate bonds between violence and love. Since her debut over 10 years ago, Del Rey’s wild, nihilistic glamour has exposed the oppressive cultural prisms of white America through the lenses of iconography through songs including California, White Mustang, Art Deco, Guns and Roses, Blue Jeans and Brooklyn Baby. 

Del Rey’s most recent album, titled “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” (DYKTTATUOB), represents more of that revelatory drama, hearkening back to the greatest hits of her playbook. It spans genres from psychedelic rock to folk to trap, sprinkling in classic Lana-isms from “Your mom called, I told her, you’re fucking up big time” to “If you want some basic bitch / go to the Beverly Center and find her.”

However, much of the album, which was released March 24, also feels more insular and haunting than the lush, cinematic production on some of her previous albums, including “Norman Fucking Rockwell!” and “Ultraviolence.” The introduction to Lana’s first verse in “The Grants” sounds like a thunderstorm breaking on a lonely horizon, and the anchoring piano wavers into dissonance in “Candy Necklace,” taking on a breathy, delicate quality. 

Thematically, the album embraces a similar, more intimate promise: exploring the possibilities of retreating from the self-delusions of coastal city relationships into some semblance of normalcy. “I’m in the mountains / I’m probably running away from the feelings I get,” she confesses on “Kintsugi.”

As in the folk spirit of her sixth album, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club,” religious themes including light and godly signals of transformation materialize throughout the album, with a spoken-word interlude from Judah Smith, a pastor, making a dramatic appearance. The surprising beauty in the mundane — the Paris, Texases or the Florence, Alabamas of the world — represents a healing escape. 

In true Lana fashion, though, DYKTTATUOB is more complicated than her previous works: it also grapples with a sudden awareness of mortality and the ways that past traumas can upend conventional familial relations. For Del Rey, who was sent away to a boarding school because of her alcoholism when she was 14 and lived with a host family in Spain when she was 16, “normalcy” is impossible. 

Those themes crescendo at the album’s most minimal moments: the heart-wrenching ballads of “Kintsugi” and “Fingertips,” which Del Rey described as a “seven-minute rant with a repetitive melody” in an interview with Billie Eilish. On both tracks, the production features swelling strings and layered flourishes that gently ripple in and out, allowing emotions to permeate through the cracks. Del Rey’s voice often seems closer and more real than ever before. 

“Kintsugi” finds Del Rey struggling with memories and grief after deaths in her family, concluding with the beautiful optimism of repairing one’s wounds and continuing to live life. A sprawling, stream-of-consciousness “Fingertips” contemplates the unfairness of death and the tragedy of life, from the death by suicide of her uncle to the death of a childhood friend to Del Rey’s mental health and the possibility that she might have a child. The lyrics range from the abstract to the chillingly specific: “All I wanted to do was kiss Aaron Greene and sit by / the lake, twisting lime into the drinks that they made / Have a babe at sixteen in the town I was born in, and die.” 

That unbound honesty bleeds into “Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father when he’s deep-sea fishing,” where Del Rey details her struggle to stay grounded while defending her authenticity. The bridge is confessional and cathartic: “I’m folk, I’m jazz, I’m blue, I’m green / Regrettably, also a white woman,” she declares, with the piano surging and percussion spraying sea breezes around her. 

DYKTTATUOB also goes back to grimier, faster-paced depictions of love unchained. The familiarity of classic Lana-isms return, with imagery like “swingin’ in a nightgown under the old oak tree/almost Victorian with you, you can talk to me.” Hip-hop and trap influences dominate the Tommy Genesis-featuring “Peppers,” and the maximalist synths of “Fishtail” coalesce and echo around Lana’s voice like rolling hills. 

When the alternate version of 2019’s “Venice Bitch” finally plays on “Taco Truck x VB,” with skittering snares and muffled drums that give an underwater quality to the production, Del Rey’s voice expands to fill up vast space, creating an atmosphere of release. The mix of such radically different sounds and themes still feels so natural and cohesive, building on years of genre-bending and experimentation. It’s a Lana Del Rey album, after all.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Hoya Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *