Photo courtesy of Boys Don’t Cry record label
Where for art thou, Mr. Ocean?
The moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here: his second album.
Frank Ocean has kept his fans impatiently waiting for new music for the last four years. When buzzy rumors of a new album popped up, Twitter was sent into an uproar of hilarious Frank Ocean memes, gifs and tweets such as, “Frank, where are you? You tricked us.”
Ocean also released a visual album called “Endless,” which features guitarist Alex G., a multi-instrumentalist based out of his bedroom. The up-and-comer’s recent success includes putting out a release in Nashville and touring with PUJOL, but he first got recognition from the songs that he released via his bandcamp profile.
Ocean’s new album, originally titled “Boys Don’t Cry,” was set to release August 5th but, unsurprisingly, he did not release anything until August 20th and changed the title to “Blonde.“
With the physical copies of the album, also stylized as “Blond(e),” fans received a zine complete with list of contributing artists, which has many big names including Andre 3000, Beyoncé, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, David Bowie, Jamie XX, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell and Tyler the Creator.
“Blonde” is a 17-track album and opens with song “Nikes.” It’s the perfect track to open with because of its mellow vibe that slowly builds throughout. The song is a really quirky, weird-sounding one with Ocean’s vocals in the first verse put through an auto-tuner. The meaning of the song is a little up in the air with interpretation but could possibly be about materialism, thus tying back to Nike shoes. In his video, there are lots of oddities happening, including naked women and Frank Ocean wearing all black and being set on fire. In one scene, Ocean is holding a picture of the late Trayvon Martin. Every image and picture has lots of symbolism behind it and was obviously well thought out beforehand.
I am usually weary of listening to albums that have a lot of hype behind them because they often disappoint. With this one, Frank Ocean surely did not.
From beginning to end, “Blonde” takes listeners on a journey within the filter of Ocean’s own mind. Lyrically, his storytelling swings from childhood to adulthood.
The last track “Futura Free” is a very long song but filled with Ocean speaking to his mother accompanied by a flashback ending: a little boy talking. I am assuming the child’s voice is his.
“Pink and White” has a Beyoncé feature to it. The feature isn’t as big of a deal as I expected since the only sounds of Beyoncé that you hear are backing vocals. However, her harmonizing on the R&B inspired track is still as beautiful as ever.
And if you missed Andre 3000’s voice, then “Solo (Reprise)” will surely be a fun one to hear. Even if it is only for a little over a minute. One of Andre 3000’s verses goes as follows: “After 20 years in, I’m still naive. I was under the impression that everyone wrote their own verses.”
I never expected such vague shade from Andre to be thrown but it definitely was.
All in all, “Blonde” left me with a sense of who Frank Ocean really is, what is going on in his head and how that has affected him personally.
This album is a story that leaves you with a lot of odd, trippy feelings throughout, and it’s very much something new and exciting to listen to within this genre.