Frank Ocean has ascended to rare hallowed ground in the R&B world since his initial release. He enjoyed a level of fame after his debut albums Nostalgia, Ultra and Channel Orange that few artists reach.
This was largely due to it’s lively and creative take on on what an R&B record should be. However, following these album’s success Frank seemed to have frankly disappeared. This left his fans clamoring for any sign of the man, usually ending in disappointment.
After teasing fans with a new album for months in advance, often pushing back the release date, it has finally arrived. Ocean just dropped his follow up 17-track album titled Blonde. The hype behind this project was unreal and certainly reached a fever pitch shortly before it’s official release.
The effect that a massive amount of hype has on a project is that expectations soar to match the level of hype. High expectations often lead to disappointment, but Blonde is definitely not a project that disappoints.
Blonde has an unapologetically contemporary feel as you sift through it’s layers. The instrumentation is lush and haunting. At the same time it is fresh, as if driving forward the sound of an entire genre.
This album feels like the new R&B. Frank’s memoirs on top of the poignant production show that he’s not regressed one bit. Instead, listeners get a sense of evolution and maturation on part of him as a person.
Frank’s command of the melodic range is near prodigious through nearly every track. His vocals have a similar effect of an instrument, blending with the instrumental melodies to form complex layers.
Underlying this is Frank’s impeccable poetic sensibility. Reading through the lyrics in text form makes this clear. Nothing Frank is saying is random nor compulsive, but rather embedded eloquently within a structured poetic framework.
This has the effect of keeping the vocals sounding concise even as he plays around with other aspects, such as melody, pitch, etc… This effect remains constant as each of the 17 songs flow together seamlessly.
It’s evident that the project was executed with great care by Frank and his team. The combination of being simultaneously concise yet melodically easy on the ears is as impressive as it is endearing.
I predict that there might be another torturous wait until any new Frank Ocean sounds drop. In the meantime, ‘Blonde’ is perfectly sufficient for my R&B needs. Get the album here.