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Review: Lana Del Rey is directionless with new album

Photo courtesy Interscope and Polydor Records

By Francesca Bliss     3/28/23 9:56pm

Rating: ★★★

Top Track: “Taco Truck x VB”

The appeal of Lana Del Rey has always been the softness of her tragedy. The depressed feminine found the perfect host in Del Rey’s sultry and beautifully exhausted voice, but it’s debatable whether the uniqueness of her delivery can always compensate for the lack of what she’s delivering. The album “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” feels like what was once Lana Del Rey’s signature sound saturated to the point of caricature. All the trademark references to god, unkind men and cigarettes are trotted out dispassionately, making the album feel more like playing Lana Del Rey bingo than a meaningful musical experience. 

While this album proves somewhat disappointing, the effort to meet listener expectations was not all in vain — the album definitely achieved a passing grade for Del Rey by providing the bare minimum fix of her alt-pop sad-girl cocktail. That said, “Taco Truck x VB” was a clear standout because of its departure from the standard formula; it sounds the closest to a decision compared to all other songs on the album. However, the rest of the album feels directionless, only achieving a vaguer version of her prior work.

“Peppers (feat. Tommy Genesis)” is also one of the more interesting tracks, offering a confusing but refreshing deviation from the album’s general tone. While the song’s lyrics don’t provide much coherence, there is more confidence behind the emotion being conveyed as opposed to the uncommitted nature of the album as a whole.

The album also offers an attempt at themes of religiosity, but the partial incorporation of gospel and sermon do not clearly connect to or further develop any lyrics or melody found within the album. Instead, tracks such as “Judah Smith Interlude” serve as fluff impersonating something profound. The interspersing of religious motifs is not elaborated on enough to paint a clear picture of the world Del Rey is trying to share with her audience. Instead, listeners are left with an incomplete and dull message that is too murky to be impactful.

Overall, the album’s songs felt like a lesser copy of Lana Del Rey’s previous work, with a few exceptions. It may be enough to make you sway, but it can’t serve as the soundtrack to your unhealthy relationships and nicotine addiction the way Del Rey’s previous albums can.  

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