By: Zoe McDonald (@Zoe_Katherine)
“Blond,” Frank Ocean’s latest and, so far, last feat over a span of three days, feels like an exhale.
It is yet another body of work that is an evolving and interconnected, almost breathing.
After “Channel Orange” was released in 2012, Frank Ocean fans waited patiently (and not so patiently) for his second album, which we thought at the time would be titled “Boys Don’t Cry.” The album, titled “Blond” on the cover and written “Blonde” on Apple Music, was released Saturday evening after the video for the first song and single, “Nike.” Saturday, he opened pop-up shops around the country that handed out a meticulously curated magazine titled “Boys Don’t Cry.” Inside was a CD for “Blond.” Ocean also released his 17-track LP, “Blond” on Apple Music and iTunes. The tracklists for the physical and online versions are different by a few songs, explaining Frank Ocean’s Tumblr post from last year with photos of his zine: “I got two versions. I got twooo versions.” On Thursday, Apple Music began streaming Endless, a visual album that only raised anticipation for what Ocean would do next.
After Frank Ocean released “Blond,” he shared this message on his Tumblr:
The timing for “Blond’s” release was impeccable. It is an end of summer album. It is the end of a love, or of a fling, or of happiness. The theme of ‘ending’ is so woven throughout that it’s almost as if after he created the album and teased its release in summer 2015, he kept it to continue tweaking and waited to release it at the exact moment when it would mean the most to his listeners.
“Blond” is R&B through and through, and we are almost completely guided through the album by Ocean’s voice. Like always, it soulful and emotional, what else could we expect from something that was formerly titled “Boys Don’t Cry?” Much like in “Channel Orange,” Frank Ocean brings listeners through religious cusps over the span of the album, some more subtle than others.
Along with the genius melodies weaving throughout, no doubt with involvement by producers like Jamie XX and James Blake, Frank Ocean utilizes colors to give the album coherency throughout. Much in the same way Lana Del Rey lives in a world of blue, black and gold, in “Blond,” Frank Ocean lives in a world of white Ferraris and “Pink + White” skies and the yellow and black ground. Even the song “Seigfried” seems to be stylized to feel black and white.
Frank Ocean waited a year to release a body of work that is almost perfectly curated with a list of collaborators that includes Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce, the Beatles, David Bowie and Andre 3000. Ocean has proved that he is a voice of this generation. Our ears turn to him because he gets us. Nearly every song on “Channel Orange” accomplishes this as well. It creates an atmosphere around us. Much like “Channel Orange,” it is an album that is easily visualized. Just like you can be in the room with the smoker and the dealer in “Pilot Jones,” you can be on rides in a white Ferrari with Ocean, watching the clouds move by in the sky.