Channel Orange is here. Frank Ocean’s much anticipated debut album has thankfully been released a week ahead of its July 17 release date. It also currently remains Number 1 on iTunes.
Following Ocean’s well received mixtape ‘Nostalgia Ultra,’ Channel Orange has exceeded many expectations. The majority, if not all of the album has been produced by Ocean himself – 15 tracks excluding expressive brief interludes – display Frank’s artistic vision and ability to musically story tell with an accompanying eclectic mix of neo soul and R&B. Infact he’s created his own form of neo-soul.
‘Thinking Bout You’, ‘Pyramids’ and ‘Sweet Life’ were all infact showcased before the official release of the album, and received great feedback and positive reviews on the whole. In particular, a fond favorite of mine ‘Thinking Bout You’ displays velvety vocals and dream like falsettos, which reach impressive and controlled heights. This track opens with a Drake-reminiscent intro, and features a likeable contagious chorus – a great way to begin the album. With ‘Sweet Life’ the transitions between smooth jazz-funk and accapella breakdowns is Ocean’s way of informing his fans that he has arrived, and is here to leave an impressionable stamp on the industry of music.. His distinctive vocal ability and diversity is highly impressive and sets him a cut above the rest – by far. Queue the headphones with reflective daydreams of reminiscent scenarios as though you’re in a movie. That the feeling Frank Ocean gives – captivated by his music…
Ocean has selected some great artists to join him on the creation of Channel Orange, with fellow Odd Future band Earl Sweatshirt featuring on a track called ‘Super Rich Kids,’ which – just works. Their chemistry on the track is strong and evident, as Earl acting as the more mysterious dark side to Frank Ocean’s vivid conscience. The track immediately embraces extracts from Mary J Blige’s 90’s hit ‘Real Love’ with the instrumental and chorus. Other notable features are John Mayer on the brief yet soothingly rich and melodious track ‘White’, and OutKast’s Andre 3000 on the song ‘Pink Matter’ Frank’s vocals are simply beautiful and the track is even more serene as it progresses.
The heart-felt Novacane singer infuses this amazing album with four interludes which include ‘Start’ ‘Not Just Money’ and ‘Fertilizer, which fit in perfectly. Ocean never disappoints or fails to deliver, and boasts versatility with his lyrical content with ‘Monk’ displaying his pleasantly intense imagination which many find themselves relating to, and ‘Pilot Jones’ – a sex-fuelled stimulating track perfect for a late night soiree with that one you highly yearn for. Some may argue that intimacy and love-making ballads are somewhat limited in the selection of tracks produced, nevertheless this is what sets Channel Orange apart from the beauty of ‘Nostalgia Ultra.’
In all, the album’s subject matter and sheer multiplicity is epitomized by an up-tempo track titled ‘Crack Rock.’ The song adopts a controversial stance relating to drug addiction, the trials and tribulations of a self-confessed addict, the sense of isolation, and homelessness. Frank Ocean is real – and draws awareness by tackling such gripping issues.
‘Bad Religion’ and ‘Forrest Gump’ give fans an insight into the sexuality of the singer, yet should not be frowned upon nor scrutinized. The importance of Frank Ocean ‘coming out’ as an artist last week gained support from Beyonce, Russell Simmons, and Neyo hopefully this diverts attention from the negative stigma attached to homosexuality. Let us celebrate Frank as a phenomenal artist in his own right.
In review Channel Orange is Frank Ocean’s masterpiece. The attention of the listener is captivatingly fixed on the deep lyrical content and musical accompaniments Frank Ocean generously offers. The vocals, melodies, instrumentals, and lyrics are all on point. Ocean can be compared to a book you cannot put down. After all life is a story. He becomes increasingly intriguing with each chapter. He can be proud of Channel Orange, which exhibits pure talent, creative vision and purpose. Frank Ocean is a poet, an incredible song-writer and a truly compelling artist, and he has, more importantly – arrived.