Frank Ocean – Blonde Review

The man who needs no introduction, Frank Ocean, just dropped his brand new album, blond(e) (the spelling seemingly varies).

While fans, like myself, may have been complaining and feeling let down after literal years of impatiently waiting and multiple release windows being completely avoided with no rhyme or reason, you’ll find any disappointment or frustration flying out the window by the time the opening track, Nikes, reaches its conclusion. It’s apparent in the aforementioned track that this album isn’t going to be anything like Channel Orange (arguably one of the greatest albums of all time), but it still sounds and feels like Mr. Ocean, nonetheless.

To me, blonde is beautifully entwined with the best sounds of Frank’s Nostalgia Ultra and Channel Orange. Retro sounds that feel ripped straight out of a classic arcade are sprinkled ever so subtly if you listen closely, and it’s a marvelous indication of both genius composition and signature flavor from Ocean. This is the Nostalgia Ultra side of the spectrum. On the other end, we have these atmospheric and ambient tones that bring you right back to the heart of Channel Orange’s most ethereal tracks such as Thinkin Bout You and Pink Matter. To top off this masterfully crafted sound, blonde also offers its own unique flavor through off the wall vocal effects and instrumental/sample combinations that, on paper, would probably seem out of place but actually act as the lamination over top of this album’s alluring sound.

After 4 years of minimal features, live performances, et cetera, it was expected that Frank Ocean would’ve had a lot of say on his new album and possibly needed a lot if help saying it. While the former is absolute truth, the latter is more so Ocean utilizing lack of help to further convey his points. To touch on that first, blonde features incredible and legendary artists such as Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar and Andre 3000, but if you’re not paying attention closely, you just may miss some of the cameo appearances. To have an artist with tenure like Beyonce, and feature her on the track Pink + White in such minimal fashion is a monstrous statement of both the respect that prestigious artists hold for Frank, but also the self-confidence in this product that Frank must have. Another example of this would be the lyrical powerhouse, Kendrick Lamar, being featured on Skyline To and literally only saying two words in the background of the song. This approach to having gigantic names within the music industry in minimal roles speaks volumes. Back to the first topic, it’s clear that Ocean has been holding in a lot that was needed to be said. Opening track, Nikes, is a perfect example as the lyrical and narrative breakdown of just one song and it’s accompanying music video is far beyond what many artists even scratch the surface of. ¬†Frank willingly and openly dives into topics that many shy away from such as homosexuality on the track, Good Guy. Frank doesn’t subtly approach any of the topics he touches on blonde, but somehow still manages to interlace connected narrative that requires attention to detail and a near-scientific level of dissection.

blonde is more instrumentally and lyrically diverse than any of Ocean’s previous works. He has evolved into something bigger than Orange, albeit in a different direction in many ways. blonde is not going to offer the radio-friendly sounds found on Orange or Ultra like Forrest Gump and Swim Good, respectively, but what it will do is offer an evolution in narrative and an amalgamation of sounds from Frank’s past and present. Instrumentally, I think this album is exactly what the audience didn’t know they were looking for. In the same fashion that Kendrick Lamar brought a sound nobody saw coming with To Pimp a Butterfly. Frank Ocean’s blonde is easily top contender for my album of the year, and is an album you should immediately dive into.Frank Ocean is the pure definition of an artist. He has his own unique approach that is not paralleled, and he has evolved into a very idiosyncratic sound that sounds as different as it does familiar. While it will take many more listens to determine which is better between blonde and 2012’s Channel Orange, I can at least say blond is on the same level. A masterpiece in regards to composition, lyricism, and narrative, blond is an album that every single person should listen to. This album takes sensitive topics on in face-to-face fashion while simultaneously reminding you that Mr. Ocean hasn’t lost sight of who he is, where he came from, or how to make damn good music.

Frank Ocean is the pure definition of an artist. He has his own unique approach that is not paralleled, and he has evolved into a very idiosyncratic sound that sounds as different as it does familiar. While it will take many more listens to determine which is better between blonde and 2012’s Channel Orange, I can at least say blond is on the same level. A masterpiece in regards to composition, lyricism, and narrative, blond is an album that every single person should listen to. This album takes sensitive topics on in face-to-face fashion while simultaneously reminding you that Mr. Ocean hasn’t lost sight of who he is, where he came from, or how to make damn good music.

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Frank Ocean - Blond

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