Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Frank Ocean "Blonde" (2016)

A musicians name can only be mentioned so many times before it becomes an obligation to give them your time. This blunt sea I kept hearing of is part of the Odd Future collective led by Tyler The Creator and it seems that his acclaim and success has out run both of them. Frank's silky and soft yet powerful and swooning voice has all the traits of a timeless R&B singer. The ultra indulgent, laid back and careless vibes of the album in its psychedelic setting put the young singer in an unrivaled position of uniqueness, a potent potion has found its audience with those who give it the time.

For me the glorification of hyper-sexual, drug abusing lifestyle can be a a real turn off in the opening stages of the record, Frank technically prostituting a women for drugs with a rather precarious choice of words among other lyrics can be difficult to stomach. Despite some disagreeable perspectives his voice is golden and it resonates with the instrumentals wonderfully as even pitch shifts, vocal effects and a splash of auto tune sound ever so tasteful, creating unique expressions rather than compensating a weak vocalist. He brings you invitingly into his world, the easy going persona and soothing singing is simply infectious.

Dreamy and psychedelic instrumentation with big washes of of reverberations and an arsenal of pianos, strings, violins, cellos, guitars, organs and keyboards bring about an organic expression, a tapestry unraveling in the simplest of forms as many of the songs here have luminous complimentary sounds that build on top of a simple, minimalist song format. Its not particularly dense, just light and airy, breezy as a few instruments build up the atmosphere around Frank's voice which is given its due spotlight on every song, remaining the focal point.

I'm very fond of the Be Yourself interlude, who I assume is Frank's mother giving some sound advice to avoid peer pressures and be comfortable with oneself. It seems almost to be ridiculed by the following tracks lyrical content. Poetry and expressive use of words are not my strong point and so I have a hard time pinpointing who he is on this record as there are many contradicting lyrics to my interpretation, it dispels a little of the indulgence but the vibes of the record are wonderful.

The album has a lot of content, its pacing is slow and steady, the variety of tracks, the avoidance of relying on drum tracks and interesting interludes pack a lot of substance into the experience. Although the opening tracks are the ones I anticipate the most its always fun to see it through as musings like Facebook Story between the more estranged tracks make markers leading to the curious interviews in the "hidden track" at the end. The whole thing feels structure less and lucid, a nice experience. This record is really something, will have to back track on Frank's other two albums!

Favorite Tracks: Nikes, Pink + White, Be Yourself, Skyline To
Rating: 8/10