Few albums in recent memory have been more highly anticipated than Frank Ocean’s sophomore album “Blond,” which finally dropped over the summer. The hype train behind this album had been fueled by the amazing success Ocean had with his debut album, “Channel Orange,” which reach Grammy status back in 2012.
With a grueling four year wait having ended now, it’s safe to say after a listen or three that “Blond” does not deliver fans what they have expected, but certainly did not disappoint.
Most albums can be described on a song-by-song basis, with each song having a different mood or message that brings the album together as one whole experience. In more ways than one, “Blond” breaks that mold, having a deep and powerful mood that each song shares throughout the album. It’s basically the soundtrack to a Stanley Kubrick movie, and I mean that in the best way possible.
The tempo of each song is kept relatively slow and mellow as Ocean’s voice belts through each track with a passion that is truly palpable. Vocally, Ocean only reaffirms that he is this generation’s Freddy Mercury, with his ability to not only hit an insanely wide range of notes, but also tell a story with a meaning that only he may know, keeping us all guessing.
Songs like ‘Ivy’ provide a steady rhythm with lyrics that listeners can really gravitate to. Facebook statuses or tweets have been seen stating, “I thought that I was dreaming when you said you loved me,” and that fact alone only drives home the point.
I enjoyed that the album included some skits within the song list that had important messages that pertain heavily to today’s youth. For example, “Be Yourself” is an answering machine message from a mother pleading for her college-age student to stay away from drugs and alcohol, while “Facebook Story” is a man explaining being dumped by his girlfriend for not adding her on Facebook when they were face-to-face.
Track ten, “Solo (Reprise)”, provides a welcome surprise as legendary rapper Andre 3000 kicks an amazing one minute rap, which was a great call-back as Mr.3000 was a fan favorite feature on Ocean’s last album ‘Channel Orange.’
Songs such as “Nikes”, “Nights”, “Skyline To”, and “White Ferrari” cover topics such as handling fame and substance abuse, while “Futura Free”, “Pink + White”, “Pretty Sweet” and “Self Control” discuss passionate love and growing up.
The album is truly an emotional trip that simply forces the listener to become immersed in, in order to appreciate the genius that takes place, while Ocean tells a mystifying and disorienting story. My personal favorite on the album is “Self Control” which is a passionate love ballad that is wedding-song material. I can only imagine the ovation Ocean will receive once he unveils this song live during performance. Anyone who has experienced what they believe is love should definitely enjoy this song, and if you have a significant other, I would suggest giving it a strong listen.
My only negative criticism would be that the message or the story of each song is more vague than those on “Channel Orange” but at the same time it is very difficult to hold any musical piece to that standard. “Blond” may leave you crying in the shower just like the album’s cover, but for some strange reason you will love and respect it because that is simply the magic that Ocean possesses. I give this album a strong 9/10 rating as an R&B album for the ages.
Nick Tocco can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org