A decade earlier, the emerging Lana Del Rey was the prey of many haters in the so-called reference media. The American from Lake Placid was criticized for her voice, for her soft childhood and adolescence, for her plastic surgeries, for her oversised ambition, for prefabricating a falsely dark and tragic persona, for her botox-inflated opportunism, and worse.
Her counter-performance on a late night talk show had certainly contributed to this descent into hell of the official critics, we know the rest: we are in 2023 and Lana Del Rey has long since proven her great talent. Her voice is now considered magnificent, the vastness of her songwriting universe and her prolificity are re-acknowledged with each new album release.
This is her ninth album in 13 years of recording activity and this album, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, keeps everything interesting.
The darkness of his debut, this nostalgic quest for a dead and buried America, is replaced by a more open-minded approach. Portraits often dark and cynical but wiser, less glued to its immediate issues, emotional hyperlucidity, acute sense of observation, search for beauty despite the burden of the task.
Through love, friendship, family, social or even mystical webs, Lana del Rey tries to extract meaning and wisdom through poetic feeling. More and more wisdom, therefore, and this at the expense of the disarray and the very real distress of the beginning.
Musically, the singer’s universe continues to expand, as can be seen in the second rap “movement” of the song A&W, a heartfelt text about sexual abuse. Ditto on Peppers, another rap song that doesn’t distort the 37-year-old’s bill in any way. The album is produced by the main character, joined by Mike Hermosa, Jack Antonoff, Drew Erickson, Zach Dawes and Benji, and we don’t count the collaborations of Tommy Genesis, Father John Misty, Riopy, Jon Batiste, Bleachers, SYML.
The blue-gray ballads, the lavish string arrangements of the classic pop of the 40s, 50s or 60s, the folk songs with piano or acoustic guitar, in short, everything we know about Lana Del Rey is enriched with new textural sound elements coming from electronic lutherie or experimental music, all of this with instrumental interludes in the manner of a hip-hop album or neoclassical attempts that are perfectly acceptable since they serve song forms without instrumental pretensions.
Lana Del Rey’s touch is now known, but the vein is still rich. This album is neither a bomb nor a big wow but it is part of the very rich corpus of this tragic beauty.