Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’: A Revolutionary Experience (Album Review)


[Photo: Frank Ocean/Apple Music]


If you haven’t been living under a rock over the past fortnight - you’ll know that Frank Ocean has finally dropped his album.

Frank, is that really you? Is this really happening? Both are important questions, but now that I’ve finally had a chance to get my thoughts together, I’m ready to put pen to paper over this wonderful work of art known as “Blonde”.

Before this past weekend, I have to admit, i’ve been complaining day-in day-out that Frank needs to drop this elusive, mythical and fictional album of his and it appears that after much deliberation, and after making fans like myself wait for what feels like an eternity, the singer-songwriter has gone and done just that, but times two - considering we’ve been also been gifted an accompanying visual album, entitled “Endless”.

In case you’re wondering, the tracklist for Endless is entirely different to Blonde, so does in fact mean we have received not one but two gifts. I can only explain this feeling in my heart and soul, as the equivalent of going to the dodgy coffee machine at work and sighing in exasperation as you wait to receive a basic, watered down cup of coffee, only to open your eyes and find a caramel mocha from Starbucks instead, complete with whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, multi-coloured glitter and a gold star on top. Anyone else? No? Maybe just me then, but sarcastically over-the-top examples aside, you get the picture. Talking about gold stars however, I’d definitely award this album with a five.

The 28-year-old broke the internet on Friday morning when he released Endless, in its entirety on Apple Music. Stripped back, lyrically mellow and embossed in black-and-white, the angelic 46-minute-length visual album has to be explored in full to be appreciated, and I immediately found the inner art enthusiast within me relishing the prospect of discovering what Frank’s muses were for this project. A modern-day Picasso, the visual may be black-and-white in its essence, but Frank’s art is anything but that, as I always hear so much colour within his voice.

If that prelude wasn’t enough of an indication of what was to come, Frank decided to release his sophomore album “Blonde”, two days later on Sunday, and the rest is history, quite literally. Has the internet been talking about anything else since? Everywhere I look I see Blonde, I hear Blonde, I think Blonde, I feel Blonde and I dream, Blonde. Practically all I want to do at this present moment is talk about Blonde.

The album opens with Nikes, before taking the listener on a melodious journey through the many technicolour realms of Frank’s world, with unrequited love and nostalgia taking the centre-fold as primary subjects. The 17-track album is evidently an immersive experience, overflowing with the most brilliantly poetic metaphors, exceptional cinematic production from start to finish and experimental sounds, which combined with Frank’s signature melodramatic tone, only adds to its aesthetic value. Encased within the deepest and richest hues of emotion, transcendent genres and tinged with carefully crafted brilliance, the follow-up to 2012′’s Channel ORANGE was certainly worth the wait.

Self-Control, a clear standout, enigmatically explores the themes of many heightened emotions and is intoxicating at its very best, with underlying tensions creating the distinctive ambience of a classic break-up ballad. Tracks such as Solo, White Ferrari and Ivy follow a similar theme with diaristic storytelling ensuring that Frank continues his trend of avant-garde artistry.

I expect this album to take home a good handful of Grammy’s from next year’s ceremony, except for Album of the Year of course, which undoubtedly belongs to my girl Beyoncé and that record-breaking Lemonade of hers. Talking about Bey, Frank even managed to get her on this album (of course he did, are you even surprised?) - and her uncredited vocals feature on Pink+White, which makes a good starting point for those who haven’t listened to it yet.

With that being said, if you haven’t listened to Blonde yet, then what are you waiting for? Armageddon? Four-years was long enough as it is - but the wait is finally over.

Rating: 9/10

Must Listen Tracks: Self Control, Nights, White Ferrari, Ivy, Solo, Godspeed.

To watch Endless, click here.

To listen to Blonde, click here.

Endless and Blonde are both exclusive to Apple Music.