KUMD Album Review: Frank Ocean

Sep 28, 2016

Frank Ocean | Blonde

Four years, one month and ten days, that’s how long it took for Frank Ocean to ride back in on his melodic wave. The channel widened and the color orange gave way to the golden tresses that form Blonde, Frank Ocean’s long-awaited sophomore album.

The bittersweet atmosphere surrounding the album doubles as a goodbye to summer and a welcome back to Frank Ocean with arms spread wide.

The overtones of romances gone wrong followed by jabs against the police system and the effect of social media, wraps Blonde into a dreamscape package of layered vocals and velvet guitar strums. It’s evident that Ocean’s four-year period of watching and waiting has given us a commentary we didn’t know was needed on love, life and death.

Where Kendrick Lamar and D’angelo created albums and comebacks driven by failures of the system, Frank Ocean provides his perspective in subtle jeers. “Nikes” opens the album with its fluidity of themes from materialism to racism. With calls to fallen comrades known and unknown “RIP Trayvon a n*** look just like me” the track fades into personal anecdotes of Frank’s life.

Sweeping somber moments like “Ivy” are broken up by more upbeat tracks such as “Solo (Reprise)” weaving and bobbing through the ups and downs from highs brought on by love and drugs throughout the album. Ocean’s voice over spacey keyboard and guitar progressions give a form of simplicity to Blonde that Channel Orange didn’t achieve, and the maturity of his artistic process is seen with the juxtaposed lyrics over his minimalistic use of instruments track to track. “I ain’t a kid no more, we’ll never be those kids again” from “Ivy” outlines a strong motto for the album. Each track seems to lead from one personal moment to another, creating a level of intimacy shared between artist and listener not often seen or heard anymore. Blonde serves as a conversation of the past and present between old friends reuniting.