In early 2013, Christopher Breaux was on the top of the world after winning two Grammys for his stunning 2012 release, Channel Orange. Fast forward to 2016 and Breaux, who now is legally named Frank Ocean, released his long, long, long… long awaited follow up to Channel Orange. After constant teasing, a library card with potential release dates on his Tumbler and a mysterious live stream which ultimately became the visual album Endless, Blonde, Ocean’s official sophomore album, was released on Aug. 20.
The 17-song effort is an ethereal dream that seems never ending. Blonde has Ocean continuously weave his thoughts and emotions into a constant stream. Unlike its predecessor, this album is a bit more moody, more drab and stripped back. Many songs have Ocean calmly crooning accompanied by sparse, straightforward production.
The album starts off with “Nikes,” a song with its pitched up vocals, and dazed atmosphere is a peak into the current world of materialism.
“These b—–s want Nikes, they looking for a check // Tell ‘em it ain’t likely,” he sings. The singer/songwriter who has previously showed his awareness of what is going on in society also remarks about Trayvon Martin’s death in the opening track. “RIP Trayvon, that n—a look just like me.”
Frank Ocean is a great storyteller and lyricist. He’s able to use his words as a tool. Blonde is filled with songs about relationships past, present and future and is able to bring out unwanted feelings. The storytelling is sad and hopeless at times, even able to make less emotional people cry.
As the album shifts into the second song, “Ivy,” has Frank reflecting on a past romantic relationship. Over a wobbly guitar, the 28-year-old singer painfully allows his emotions and heartbreak to pour out.
“I thought I was dreaming when you said you loved me // It started from nothing // I had no chance to prepare, I couldn’t see you coming,” Ocean soothingly croons on one of the more moving lines on the project.
A standout of the album is “Solo.” Emptiness and loneliness is painted throughout the four minute and 17 second track. The hook of the song entails of Ocean relying on drugs when life is hard or when he gets “low.”
“It’s hell on Earth and the city’s on fire // Inhale, inhale there’s heaven,” he expresses.
“Nights,” a fan favorite, is split up into two parts. The first part with its slow, rumbling drum beat, Ocean flows and shows a bit of aggression and braggadocio. As the beat switches into a moodier vibe, the second half has the singer being introspective with lines remembering about relocating after Hurricane Katrina and his family’s financial status.
Beautiful would be a great word to describe Blonde. This album is just simply beautiful. From the aesthetically pleasing muddy synth chords on “White Ferrari,” the passionate singing and outro on “Seigfried” and the gospel like beauty on “Godspeed.”
The music world waiting four years for a new Frank Ocean album. With all the pressure on his shoulders, one of the brightest talents in the business delivered and delivered in a big way. Blonde isn’t as bright or upbeat as Channel Orange and its subject matter is nearly one sided. But it makes up for it with its raw emotions and heavy moods. Although a four-year break in between albums was not ideal, the end product ultimately was. Blonde is a modern day masterpiece, thank you, Frank Ocean.
Final Grade 9.5 / 10
Favorite Tracks : Nikes, Ivy, Solo, Skyline To, Self Control, Seigfried
Least Favorite Tracks : None
email: [email protected]