With the release of Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd, mama Lanita’s new album has me in my summertime sadness early this year.
On a late night plane ride last week I finally sunk into a dreamy slumber while taking in the first listen through the album. It was the perfect calming agent with soothing melodies in “Candy Necklace” and “Grandfather please…,” but it also helped me come to in its moments of louder reverberations. Like in the abrasive interludes (Judah Smith, then Jon Batiste) and the orchestral momentum in the title track – I woke up and realized I was a little hypnotized by several sounds in between sleeps.
It’s hard to pick one standout earworm when there’s so many good one liners throughout.
The opening lyrics to “The Grants” are intriguing in their own right, as a church choir starts rehearsing a bit of a tongue twister: “I’m gonna take mine of you with me,” they sing. It becomes clearer once the speaker reveals, “My pastor told me ‘when you leave, all you take/ Oh, is your memory.’” She repeats “and I’m gonna take mine of you with me” over and over, so we know the atlas for this album (among her others): memory, loss, lust. And at several times even serving us whorish child of God.
Listening activity: While flying on a plane, you may fall asleep but also be prepared for unexpected turbulence.
I gotta give it to “A&W” simply because we love a 7 minute song that starts and ends in two different musical directions, yet maintains a consistent theme throughout.
Lana tackles the madonna/whore complex head-on, and challenges us to weigh sexual liberation with the realities of slutshaming and victim-blaming. As the speaker finds ownership over her sexual desires, she sums it up in the chorus: “It’s not about havin’ someone to love me anymore/ No, this is the experience of bein’ an American whore.”
The whole song captures a sense of gossip and truth-bending with its references to phone calls and he-said she-saids: “I say I live in Rosemead, really, I’m at the Ramada/ It doesn’t really matter, doesn’t really, really matter.”
But it’s the call on “Jimmy cocoa puff” that takes the cake for best earworm: “Jimmy only love me when he wanna get high/ Your mom called, I told her, you’re fucking up big time.”
The speaker’s relationship with their own mother is fraught from the start of the song: “I haven’t done a cartwheel since I was nine/ I haven’t seen my mother in a long, long time.” And at the end here, we circle back to mothers, which is by no coincidence. It is either a direct call out to the real and/or drug-induced “Jimmy,” OR a self-reflective moment buried in a muted reconnection with her own mother (and perhaps her potential disappointment).
With this deliciously quotable line, we get the sassy Lana we know and love, and enjoy the last two unexpected minutes of the song.
In “Taco Truck x VB,” she circles back to the theme of memory and gossip, singing, “Spin it ’til you whip it into white cream, baby/ Print it into black and white pages, don’t faze me.”
Ending with a sultry sample from a track on Norman Fucking Rockwell, I won’t be able to stop singing “It’s me, your little Venice Bitch” until I step foot on muscle beach in June. This album came just at the right time.