The greatly anticipated sophomore album by Frank Ocean is finally here. Frank has officially pulled a Lazarus on us, but he came back better than before. He also released a visual album “Endless” which is impressionistic to say the least. I must say the announcement was underwhelming at first probably because I didn’t even think it was true. Every week there would be a lot of buzz about him dropping the album which turned out to be bullshit. The disappointment would kill me every single time. For us die hard Frank Ocean fans, it’s the end of a long wait…I’m low-key going to miss all the funny memes and trolls though. On a more personal note, “Nostalgia Ultra” got me through a lot of shit in the past so I mean it when I say I needed this album. I actually had to listen to “Channel Orange” one more time before diving wholeheartedly into “Blonde”. It’s safe to say right now that my heart wasn’t ready.
Right off the bat “Nikes” is captivating and emotionally charged as expected. The vocals are clearly heavily manipulated and sound almost alien-like but it really goes well with the song. “We’re not in love but I’ll make love to you”, yup that’s going to be everyone’s Instagram caption/ Facebook status update now lol. He really does touch on a lot of subjects in this one song , including the unlawful death of Trayvon Martin. I could already tell from the first song that this album was going to seriously fuck me up emotionally.
There’s always been a layer of mystery in Frank’s music; it’s not really that easy to decipher what or who he talks about in his music. This is probably why I had to take almost a week to publish this review. Personally I love this factor, it gives me time to completely drown myself in the music and really discover the meaning behind the words by myself.
“Ivy” is a heavy acoustic ballad which gives me a lot of Nostalgia Ultra vibes. It has a somewhat simple production with sleek bass guitar in the background. This song is typical Frank and I love that. Perhaps I’m one of the only people who didn’t expect his music to change to drastically over the four years he disappeared. I knew he would tweak his sound here and there but I didn’t expect him to change much about his sentimental, minimalistic yet prevailing approach.
“Pink+White” is the song that’s getting a lot of attention because he actually only used Beyonce for background vocals. If you ask me the dude’s already reached icon status after this move. Is this his thing? Remember when he got an entire John Mayer to do an interlude or something? Nevertheless, it’s a soothing track with words that spark a beautiful imagery in one’s mind and of course Beyonce’s voice in the background makes it even better.
Up to this point this album has been complete mind fuck. I just have to say, three songs in and this is already the best album I’ve heard in 2016 thus far. I really love how the beats are usually understated and the rapping or singing takes more precedence in his music.
“Nights” is one hell of a trip and that’s probably why it’s my favorite song on this LP. I honestly have listened to this song more times than I can count since I got the album. How dare he put me through this? This song got me feeling emotions I didn’t even know were real. I think I’m even more obsessed with it because it’s one of the songs with a hetero vibe going on. I really love the transitions in the song it’s like three songs in one but with the same theme. Oh gahd, the last transition got me crying for real. The transition occurs at exactly 30 minutes into the 60 minute LP, and it signifies the duality of the album. I also saw somewhere that apparently the album is called “Blonde” but stylized as Blond because to represent Frank’s bisexuality. Lol I’m not sure about all that but they we are all trying to figure the dude out, aren’t we?
“Close to you” sounds extremely experimental and a bit eerie in terms of production but his smooth vocals make it pleasant to listen to. It’s still a very poignant song lyrically. “Seigfried” sounds a bit more familiar but with a psychedelic twist. He brings back his style of creating this feeling of distanced isolation between lovers. I really love hearing him transition from singing so smoothly to rapping slightly aggressively, his personality really shines through in his music.
“Futura Free” closes the album and it sounds like a build up to something even though it’s the final track. Frank just needs to release a rap album already, I luvvv it ! God knows what he’s talking about though, he keeps repeating the words “I’m just a guy not a god” and at some point it sounds like he’s straight free styling. Isn’t all this madness the reason we love Frank in the first place? His madness is so relatable though.
Blonde is an arousing, mind-blowing and trippy experience. I wonder what it’s like to know Frank Ocean or to work with him… better yet, I wonder what it’s like to be Frank Ocean. This album gives a lot of insight into who he is and what he’s been through behind really intricate lyrics. He had the world on its toes just waiting for this album to get dropped and he still took his time to execute this exactly how he wanted to. I think what I love most about him is how his music is extremely emotional but not in an obvious or direct way, it’s more of how he relates memories and thoughts and it sounds all too familiar. He is an outstanding songwriter. I’m really digging his minimalist yet ultramodern soul art sound, he is a fucking genius let’s be honest.
For anyone comparing this album to Channel Orange, stop right there. I don’t even question anything this man does honestly Frank has elevated into a “god”level to me. Channel Orange is a timeless masterpiece but Blonde has its value and significance and appeal too. I had really high expectations about this album, if you’re going to take 4 years you better make it really good and honestly I’m not disappointed. Clearly Frank is someone who understands craftsmanship and the patience it requires. This album completely threw me off balance and that’s why it’s so wonderful.
Essential tracks: Ivy, Nights, Seigfried, Pink+White
TCW RATING: 8.9/10