By Taylor Gendel (check out her blog here)
One of the most meaningful and intimate things someone can do is to share music with you that they regard as important. For a music lover, this is not a casual suggestion of a song they heard in passing. It is a carefully curated gift that can connect you on an almost spiritual level. A recommendation from a music lover does not come lightly.
A music lover’s recommendation is carefully catered to their audience. Give this music a chance. A real listen. Don’t just skip through to the tracks that feature the artists you’ve heard of.
And if you hate it? That’s fine. Music is subjective. Try not to get caught up in the hype. Listen and decide for yourself. Have a reason when you say you like something, even if that reason is “it makes me feel good”.
This is my review of Frank Ocean’s Blonde. Take it or leave it, it’s my opinion. But it makes me happy, and I want to share it with you.
This album proves that when you take your time and put your heart into your passions the product is inevitably going to be stronger and more valuable. I would wait another 4 years for Frank’s next album if it promised to be of the same quality.
Auto-tune at its absolute best. An unexpected way to start off an album from one the strongest voices out there, but perhaps that was a statement in itself. It is dazzling and glittery. It puts you in a daze and you don’t even hear Frank’s true vocals until more than halfway through the song. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a song mention a Yarmulke before so that’s cool too. Watch the video to listen to a slightly different version of this song that features a call/response from two different Franks.
Ivy (produced by Jamie xx & Rostam)
I love Frank because he can transport you from a place of peace to a place of vulnerability within a single song. His vocals at the end alternate between passion and distress. His screams are a comforting release of energy. Pitchfork wrote a much better review than I ever could specifically on this song.
Pink + White (production from Pharrell Williams and Tyler, The Creator, as well as uncredited backing vocals from Beyoncé)
This was my favorite song on the album my first listen through (even before I found out the female vocals at the end are Beyoncé). It must have been recorded at the same time they collaborated on “Superpower” because this could almost be its sequel track. This song reminds me of my favorite song on Channel Orange, “Sweet Life”, which makes sense because they’re both produced by Pharrell.
I hope that this is really Frank’s mom. “This is Mom, call me, bye.”
*I checked, and it is not. Damn.
This could be a hymn. You can hear organs and a chorus in the back. Reminds me a lot of Chance’s Coloring Book. I love to listen to Frank seamlessly switch between belting out a melody and laying down rhymes.
Skyline To (Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Produced By The Creator & Tyler)
Birds are chirping in the background as this song opens. You can barely recognize that the backing vocals are Kendrick Lamar but his contribution to the album seems to solidify its greatness (to me at least). “Summer ain’t as long as it used to be”
Self Control (Featuring Yung Lean & Austin Feinstein)
A smooth love song that could be Miguel. The guitar, the strings. Pretty beautiful.
A quick song about a date. Frank speaking openly about his sexuality is one of his greatest gifts.
Nights (Produced By Vegyn, Uzi & Buddy Ross)
Frank can successfully walk the line between hip hop and R&B, and this song is proof. He transports you from an almost danceable beat to a mellow R&B track. Drake wishes he could create something of this caliber.
Solo (Reprise) (Featuring André 3000)
I love Andre 3000. I don’t have much to say beyond that.
A dizzying opening that clears into beautiful simplicity. The drum beat at 1:39 reminds me a lot of “My Favorite Things” from The Love Below. Add in a chorus of children singing and you have something truly unique.
Facebook Story (Featuring SebastiAn)
For whatever reason this song won’t play on my computer but it is a skit about how a relationship falls apart because of Facebook. Keeping things relevant. Perhaps a warning to the listeners to stay present in the real world.
Close to You (Produced By Vegyn)
This is a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Close To You” (which is also a cover). (Source) I love love love Stevie Wonder and Frank delivers a beautiful tribute to Stevie who is undoubtedly an influence on his sound and style.
White Ferrari (Featuring Bon Iver & James Blake)
Another early favorite of mine. It is a gathering of three of the melancholiest vocalists of our current time. This is a beautiful love song that leaves you aching for more. Also the Beatles are credited as writers on this song. And whatever your opinion on that, it would be hard to deny that its reference is to one of the group’s most simple and original songs.
Seigfried (Produced By Bob Ludwig)
Elliot Smith gets a writing credit here for Frank’s interpretation of “A Fond Farewell”. This song makes me feel like I’m on another planet. It is slowed down and spacey; sexy and sensitive. Frank’s verse of spoken word is the icing on the cake. This is reminiscent to certain tracks on Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet.
Godspeed (Featuring Kim Burrell)
One of the most powerful tracks. Another song that takes you to church, featuring gospel singer Kim Burrell. Read more about Kim’s influence and the recent resurgence of gospel in hip hop here.
Hey guys, Dylan here. This is my favorite song on the Album, so Taylor kindly let me ruin her fantastic review with some words at the end. Future Free is, in my mind, the quintessential album closer. It’s a fuzzed out, sleepy, dreamy druggy ode to Tupac. It’s got a simple repetitive piano line that appears and reappears all over the track. It’s great. The four-minute “deep question” interview is a great distillation of Frank’s worldview, but not really a song so I won’t discuss it here.
Be Sure To Check out Taylor’s Blog at soulsector.tumblr.com