Frank Ocean’s Blonde has been out for two weeks and I’ve been in its unrelenting grip.
The visual album, Endless sucked me in immediately. I watched it three times in a row. Cinematic, monochrome hues fill a warehouse full of industrial equipment. Radiant, soft sounds pace back and forth, permeating through the mundane, the ghosts of Bowie and Prince, present and alive. A sonic blanket washes over you, warm and cool, as Ocean builds a spiral staircase, block by block.
Ocean is back, self-released and independent.
It’s been a while since Channel Orange and it was worth the wait. A tree never forces its sap. We’ve all been waiting and Endless is ambient, sonic tapestry that paces from pure soul to experimental within seconds. It’s music. It’s sound and vision, free of genre and gender. And there, in the middle of it all, is Ocean, ebbing and flowing. We’re watching his evolution and it’s a beautiful thing.
Blonde, the follow up album tackles love, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll and self-discovery including a voicemail at the beginning of “Be Yourself”, from the mother of one of Ocean’s good friends, Jonathan. Rosie Watson’s voicemail warns of the dangers of marijuana, cocaine and alcohol. “Don’t try to be someone else. Be yourself and know that that is good enough”, which segues into “Solo”, a drug-filled adventure of unrequited love set to a beautiful Hammond Organ. “Self-Control’s” vulnerable harmonies pierce through the pain of a bad break-up.
Some nights you dance with tears in your eyes
I came to visit cause you see me like a UFO
That’s like never, cause I made you use your self control
And you made me lose my self control, my self control
You don’t need a guide to understanding “Blonde”. You just need to be human.
André 3000’s cameo alone on ‘Solo (Reprise)’ might make you want to go find a microphone just to drop it.
Welcome back, Frank. Not that you ever left.