Lana Del Rey makes a triumphant return with her ninth studio album, JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown team up for Scaring the Hoes, and Rosalía drops a three-track EP
Nine albums in, and Lana Del Rey still has a lot on her mind. Clocking in at just over 75 minutes, her latest offering Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd, explores ideas of love and relationships in ways that only Del Rey knows how, and also ventures into other topics, such as family, religion and motherhood. On opening track “The Grants”, the title a reference to Del Rey’s real surname, the singer recalls her “grandmother’s last smile” and “sister’s first-born child”, while “Fingertips” charts the fraught relationship with her own mother, examining the decision to send Del Rey to boarding school as a teenager (“What the fuck’s wrong in your head to send me away, never to come back?”).
There are other moments of frank honesty too, like on “Kintsugi”, a heartfelt ode to relatives who have passed. “When you see someone dying/You see all your days flash in front of you”, sings Del Rey matter-of-factly, “And you think about who would be with you/And then there's Donoghue.” She’s referring to rumoured ex-boyfriend Jack Donoghue, of the witch house band Salem, and in doing so manages to come off as neither salacious or revelatory, only quietly disarming in her candour.
Although, for the most part, Ocean Blvd expertly reckons with the weight of emotional relationships gone awry, the record is offset by brief moments of abandon, functioning as welcome reminders of Del Rey's self-reflexive humour. “If you want some basic bitch, go to the Beverly Center”, she retorts drily on “Sweet”, while the beat-switch halfway through “A&W” takes the mellow piano ballad up ten fiery notches. But it's the record’s penultimate track, the hip-hop-inflected “Peppers”, that really reminds us of the Lana we once knew. Sampling the pre-chorus of Tommy Genesis’s 2015 track “Angelina”, the track sees Del Rey “open up the blinds” and “dance naked for the neighbours” while making out with her boyfriends who just “tested positive for COVID”. Even in the wake of all that loss and heartbreak, Del Rey always remembers to have fun (and stay petty).