FRANK OCEAN: BLONDE ALBUM REVIEW
2016 has surely brought a lot of grief and sorrow to the music industry, but it sometimes made us incredibly happy too. One of the highlights of this strange year was the release of the long awaited follow up to Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange”. Originally expected to be named “Boys Don’t Cry”, it was finally released in August, just one day after a mysterious visual album called “Endless” shocked the excited fans of Mr. Ocean. “Blonde” comes four long years after “Channel Orange”, the masterpiece that brought him to fame. During this period, Frank managed to fix some aspects of his life he didn’t like: he moved to London, he changed all of his staff and he finally became independent from Def Jam, founding his personal label named, unsurprisingly, “Boys Don’t Cry”.
This maturation is clear also in Ocean’s music: “Blonde” is a coherent, ethereal album, developed around a personal narration of unfulfilled love and contrasting emotions. The opening track, “Nikes”, although not being at the same level as the rest of the album, introduces the listener to the delicate, chorus lead theme that characterizes the entire album. “Ivy” is the first song that really highlights “Blonde”’s incredible quality, with its dreamy guitar melody and the youngish voice, that perfectly matches the lyrics about a lost juvenile love. In “Ivy”, Ocean seems to sing with multiple overlapping voices, peculiarity that distinguishes also other tracks of the album; in a recent interview, Ocean declared that for him this unusual singing style helps creating the impression of an interior monologue. “Pink + White” is the catchiest song of the entire album: the beat is amazing, and the overall cheerful feeling of the song makes it a perfect single. Really notable is Andre 3000’s feat in “Solo (Reprise)”, perfectly performed by the OutKast’s brilliant rapper. The incredibly ethereal atmosphere of tracks like “Self Control”, “White Ferrari” and “Seigfried” is what makes this album truly unique, and marks Ocean’s enormous artistic growth.
“Blonde” and “Boys Don’t Cry” (a magazine that dropped at the same time of the album), describe a mature, 360 degrees artist, capable of making his own art at his own rules. Ocean seems ready to lead the contemporary music world, and to expand his influence in other art fields. Meanwhile, the Long Beach artist will be finally back on stage this summer, with some tour dates already announced. Frank Ocean is back.