Ocean gets choppy with long-awaited album ‘Blonde’

Kaelin Kragh

RELEASING BOTH a normal and a visual album on the same day, Frank Ocean ended his long album drought
RELEASING BOTH a normal and a visual album on the same day, Frank Ocean ended his long album drought

After nearly two years of silence, the day Frank Ocean fans have long anticipated has finally arrived. “Blonde,” Ocean’s second traditional, full length album goes in a softer direction than his previous upbeat work, but still possesses the same unique, idiosyncratic tone his music is known for.

The album includes sentimental tracks and creative incorporations, such as his non-musical songs mostly made up of dialogue with beats in the background, elements which make the album well worth the wait. Within a week of its release, it has already become the top purchased album on iTunes.

In April 2016, Ocean announced that his follow up album to 2014’s “Channel Orange” would be released in July. However, it was released a month later than Ocean originally planned without any explanation, which upset his fans.

Still sticking to his R&B roots, the 22-year-old singer-songwriter successfully pursued an artistic path to make his music more meaningful, with a storytelling spirit integrated into every song.

In the song “Be Yourself,” a voicemail from his mother is incorporated into the lyrics. In the song, she demands that he doesn’t get addicted to drugs or alcohol as he ventures to college. Her main emphasis was that Ocean “be himself.” While still in school, Ocean sold drugs, particularly crack cocaine. I found the song to be particularly meaningful because Ocean was apologizing for not following his mother’s wishes, or for not being “true to himself,” as his mother said in the track. Ocean was trying to get the message across that his mother was right about sticking to your core values.

In “Facebook Story,” the voice of a French man explains how his girlfriend broke up with him after accepting a friend request from another woman. This implies that some people in relationships tend to be dramatic. Ocean is relatively private with his romantic life compared to other celebrities. Ever since he came out as gay via his Tumblr account, fans haven’t heard much about any men he has dated. In “Facebook Story,” Ocean appears to be getting the message across that relationships are hard work and only result in unnecessary drama. I found both “Be Yourself” and “Facebook Story” to be interesting ways of making an album artistically remarkable. This is a way in which Blonde differs from many of the mainstream albums artists release today.

Ocean drops multiple hints in this album in regards to his love life, particularly in two of his best tracks: “Nights” and “White Ferrari.” The most prominent lines in “Nights,” put an ex of Ocean’s on the spot when he says, “I’m not trying to keep you/Can’t keep up a conversation. Did you call me from a seance/you are from a past life/hope you’re doing well.” Starting off with a more upbeat tempo in contrast to the rest of the album, “Nights” is the ideal song for a nighttime jam.

“White Ferrari,” which features Bon Iver and James Blake, stands out as perfect example of what Ocean’s album is dedicated to—slow beats with passion imbedded into the lyrics. A noteworthy line is, “I care for you still and I will forever/That was my part of the deal, honest/We got so familiar, spending each day of the year, White Ferrari.” The song itself is simple, referring to a late night ride with his beau, but the simplicity is what makes it so sentimental. Ocean is content with the little things he gets to do with his loved one.

However, a song that could be skipped in the album is “Nikes.” It starts out with a smooth R&B beat, but Ocean’s voice is autotuned to sound raspy, resulting in a martian-like sound. It has a solid beat, but Ocean tries too hard to make the voice sound alternative, ending up with an unappealing sound.

Overall, Ocean’s album is unique and has clear, artistic inspiration integrated into the work. If you are among the few who have not ventured out the buy the album, I suggest doing so immediately to add to your back-to-school playlist.