It’s really, finally here: Frank Ocean has released his third album Blonde. Forget all the hype, forget the visual albums, the wait, forget channel ORANGE. Is Blonde any good? You better believe it is.
Blonde opens with lead single Nike, a commentary of the social injustices in America today. It’s layered with vocals swaying from his soothing falsetto to auto-tuned hooks: the perfect way to kick off. Pink + White is a cold beer on a hot day – Beyoncé provides backing vocals though you wouldn’t know it was Bey if it wasn’t written in the credits; Solo is a heavy-hitting comedown, a jaded sequel to channel ORANGE’s Lost; Solo (Reprise) pops up later in the album with Andre 3000 letting Frank take a back seat – a dramatic footnote to this Lost/Solo trilogy.
Much of the album plays out like a late night diary entry, Nights and Seigfried especially. Ocean shows exactly why he’s so popular – he can create something unique which still has the pop sensibilities to appeal to the masses, and a remarkable capacity to reflect on his life in the present. Moments of self-realisation (White Ferrari) are the most powerful and intimate on the record. The release culminates with the epic nine minute-long Futura Free, an ode to the past four years and the album’s creation, in which the musician reflects on times before he was ‘Frank Ocean’, day-time jobs, and Tyler, The Creator crashing on his couch.
Blonde isn’t going to have the immediate impact that channel ORANGE had; the hype surrounding its release almost guarantees that some listeners may be left underwhelmed. But much like Kanye’s The Life Of Pablo, give it a second listen and then a third and come back to me. You won’t be disappointed.
Blonde available August 22 via Independent