Frank Ocean’s new album is ‘ Blonde.’ It’s the followup to his critically acclaimed debut ‘Channel Orange’ and follows the release of the surprise visual album ‘Endless.’ Now that the long-awaited album has arrived critics are weighing in and you can see a round up of reviews here.
It was four years ago, in 2012 that Frank Ocean burst onto the scene with the stunning ‘Channel Orange’ which received nearly universal critical acclaim. He had announced the sophomore album ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ more than a year ago, and after many delays — and a name change — it has arrived and is available exclusively at Apple Music for the first two weeks.
Frank Ocean took to Tumblr to reflect upon the album’s release — and to acknowledge the anticipation that has been growing in recent weeks. He said, “I had the time of my life making all of this. Thank you all. Especially those of you who never let me forget I had to finish. Which is basically every one of ya’ll. Haha. Love you.”
The album arrived with plenty of fanfare, and social media buzz. And, in this day and age, increasingly we see boundaries blurred between videos and visual albums and traditional musical releases. One could argue this is the new tradition, to embrace a multi-platform, multi-media rollout.
Such as been the case with ‘Blonde.’ In New York City there were pop-up shops, as Rolling Stone reports, where fans could get a copy of the 360-page Boys Don’t Cry which held within a CD of ‘Blonde.’ The publication itself is a tour de force with interviews, photos, a screenplay and other writings by Ocean himself.
‘Endless,’ the 45-minute visual album was the surprise release, followed a day later by ‘Blonde’ which is the sophomore album proper. It boasts an A-list of collaborators including Kanye West, Beyonce, Pharrell Williams, Rick Rubin, Andre 3000, Tyler The Creator, James Blake, and Jamie xx.
Now, that the full album is out, the music critics are now weighing in on the much awaited and re-titled album. Here’s what they’re saying.
“….Mr. Ocean writes impressionistically, and sings with a casual sternness, as if sauntering into the studio, smearing out an idea running through his head, then retreating. That’s reflected in the range of vocal approaches he takes on “Blonde”: heavy-sigh exhalation, digitally manipulated childlike singing, forceful spoken word, sleepy-eyed rapping, obscured conversation….” –New York Times
“… Sonically, it has the same contemplative and poetic tone as Ocean’s lionized 2012 debut. In fact, it is so meditative that there are few beats at all; most of the Apple Music version is just gauzy laptop washes, pianos, laconically strummed guitars and his voice. He seems to have stripped himself to his bare thoughts, some of which he expresses inchoately….” –Rolling Stone
“….’Blonde’, on first listen, isn’t the show-stopping, magnum-opus that many had expected or hoped for. Less immediate and meticulous than ‘Channel Orange’, it instead sees Ocean subtly grow as a songwriter, turning his focus inward as he abandons the character studies that formerly made up most of his lyrics for a mode that’s a lot more personal this time round. In this way, the album can be seen as a document of where Frank is right now as a person, a time capsule of the last four years….”–NME
“…. Blonde look like a hasty, albeit beautiful, college final. But his creative process is still fueled by perfectionism, the type which wakes up early to style intentionally disheveled hair. It’s the crinkled audio of his mother warning him about drugs and alcohol on “Be Yourself” then followed by acid tabs and lines of cocaine getting diva delivery on “Solo”. Blonde is full of rough transitions left that way on purpose…..” –Consequence of Sound
“….dAmong all the immediate autobiographical and introspective themes of weed, cars, women, men, consumerism, growing up and responsibility, are all kinds of complex wordplay, and references to Shakespeare and Teutonic myth, but as with everything these are subtly done. They don’t clang into the songs as signals of bourgeois erudition, but slide in, signposting more and deeper themes which will only become apparent as we live with the album. And yes, it’s true: this is going to be an album worth living with. ….” –The Guardian
“….Like the builder he plays in “Endless,” the Ocean of “Blonde” is engaged in an act of love. The penultimate track, “Godspeed,” plays like a goodbye to boyhood and an affirmation of what will endure. Ocean sings like he’s in church, and his tone is open, a quiver of emotion audible. An organ plays, and it’s as if he’s envisioning the Last Supper: “The table is prepared for you.” It turns out that while his fans were busy waiting, Frank Ocean was preparing a feast…..” — Chicago Tribune
“….Blonde follows 2012’s acclaimed Channel Orange with more risks and detours constructed around Ocean’s natural vocal gifts and daring vision…..” — Fuse
Here’s the Track list
3. Pink + White
4. Be Yourself
6. Skyline To
7. Self Control
8. Good Guy
10. Solo (Reprise)
11. Pretty Sweet
12. Facebook Story
13. Close to You
14. White Ferrari
17. Futura Free
You can stream the album here and see Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’ album cover art below.