Natalie Semmel (Reviews editor) and Tyler Watts (staff writer) discuss Lana Del Rey’s new album.
Natalie: So Tyler, what’s your favorite Lana Del Rey album? What’s the history between you two?
Tyler: Yeah, so brief history on me and Lana. I found her in middle school, I want to say seventh grade, and immediately Ultraviolence was my favorite. There weren’t too many of her albums out at that point. But after graduating middle school, Lust for Life came out and I was obsessed. Right now, Chemtrails Over The Country Club, Ultraviolence, and Norman Fucking Rockwell are my big three.
N: For me, I started really listening in high school, around the time that Lust for Life came out. Lust for Life really is up there. The features are crazy—she has a song with Playboi Carti, two with ASAP Rocky, and Stevie Nicks on another. I also love Norman Fucking Rockwell.
T: Yeah, period. Lust for Life is amazing. “God bless America and all the beautiful women in it” is my alarm song.
N: God bless America and all the beautiful she/theys in it.
T: Yeah, let’s have a rerecord.
N: Okay, so back to Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd? Thoughts?
T: It was very beautiful and moving. It had highs and lows. There were points where I wasn’t that impressed or satisfied as a fan. But I felt really touched by the album and how much she opened up about herself in it. You?
N: I really liked all of the singles she released before it. I obviously loved “A&W” so much, that song is kind of life changing. The title track is also fantastic. But I do feel that the whole work is a little bit slow. I don’t think I would, like, go on a walk and just turn on Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd to be my backtrack.
T: Yeah, for the tracks that I really like, I liked before the release. My first exposure to the album was like in bed at 11 p.m. over break when it dropped.
N: Okay, Chicago!
T: Yes, I love Central Standard Time. My first listen, I was just lying in bed. By around “Fingertips” I was dozing, but then woke up in time for this “Paris, Texas”. And I remember after “Fingertips” one of the songs that I really love came on after that, and kind of woke me back up. And then “Margaret” was a song where I kinda fell asleep again.
N: That’s such a slow part. So many piano ballads, but I actually really like “Margaret.” I don’t really like Bleachers. I don’t like Jack Antonoff. That’s a loaded statement. But I don’t like that man. Let’s not unpack.
T: I support you. “Peppers” startled me. And the talking interludes startled me because I’m just lying there in the dark. And then it’s like this preacher yelling at me. Because the album itself is really quiet. The production was also an issue for me because it felt very choppy and messy.
N: What do you think she means “hands on my knees I’m Angelina Jolie?”
T: I don’t know. I like the song “Angelina” by Tommy Genesis a lot but is there a movie where her hands are on her knees? Not that I can think of, but it’s catchy and it’s cute.
N: Yeah, it’s cute. I honestly feel like Angelina Jolie when she was in her chaotic 2000s era must have been a big inspiration for Lana Del Rey. Like objectively and conventionally very beautiful and talented, but also doing some genuinely quite problematic and weird things, like the whole Angelina Jolie kissing her brother.
T: And just like Lana Del Rey kissing Chuck?
N: Yeah, the sibling kissing. It’s weird.
T: I want her vocals protected from this vape that she loves so much. I think that she used a lot of cigarette imagery in her career, but then with the rise of juul and vape—I don’t know if it’s her millennial insecurity about losing touch with people, but…
N: It’s like the same thing as her wearing that neon jacket on the cover of Norman Fucking Rockwell, or the Target dresses in Rolling Stone.
T: She’s the common woman but she still turns that into something glamorous through the sounds and the aesthetics but it’s not a perfect fit.
N: What did you think about “Taco truck X VB?”
T: I thought the “Venice Bitch” remix was really gorgeous and playful and such a treat because “Venice Beach” is an anthem. I think one of the greatest joys of Lana’s growth as an artist is how self-referential she is, using or reworking some of her melodies and motifs.
N: It’s also interesting though, because Norman Fucking Rockwell is about the cop boyfriend, right? But it’s weird because “A&W” is all about how he cheated on her. And “Venice Bitch” is presumably also about him because when it came out, they were together.
T: Yeah. And thinking about the album promotion—the first thing was that billboard in Tulsa. And that’s the only billboard that she put out. Yeah. So I feel like there’s some sort of targeted correlation.
N: But, yeah, anyway, though, do you have a number rating out?
T: If I were to do out of 10 like, six and a half or seven. Even going back to “Taco Truck.” I thought some of it was corny with the Lanita-Bonita-Carlito. Like, girl, what are you doing? And she knows that so many people are on her about her Latina-fishing. Yeah. So it was kind of random. But other than that, and the talking interludes, I guess I’d give it a seven out of 10.
N: I would probably give it a 6.5. I see myself being more excited to revisit some of her earlier work because of this album.