Album Breakdown: Blonde (Review)

I hope that this latest Frank Ocean album has taught people a lesson in overhyping things. I mean, realistically, it probably hasn’t. In the same vein, I look at the latest Frank Ocean release as a lesson for up and coming artists. Don’t torture your fans and then release an “OK” project. Blonde, or Boys Don’t Cry, or whatever you’d like to call it is an okay piece that is absolutely not worth what Frank put his fans through to get this. While there are some interesting cuts, Frank steps out of his element towards the later tracks, making for a mixed bag of music.

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The first six cuts are pretty good. They give me that classic R&B Frank Ocean vibe that I’ve come to really enjoy off of pieces like Channel Orange, or old Odd Future features. While none of the songs particularly stick out to me, the mixing and mastering as well as production on the majority of the album is generally solid. Frank brings his usual whisper tones to the album just as he always does, and it brings back a nice vibe I remember from years ago. Frank’s music has always had an undertone of nostalgia that helps to accent the better parts of his singing style.

Unfortunately, after a good start, we get to the second half of the album. Here, Frank starts to lose steam. It’s this psychedelic oddity schtick that starts to wear on you. It’s like when Mac Miller decides that he’s going to drop some acid and make music, and he puts those really strange psychedelic/acoustic cuts on his album. I think that the idea of stylizing the music is cool. Sure, inject it with what you’re feeling. In the same vein, you have to have some sort of a baseline for that type of music before you just…make it. You can’t just decide that you’re going to do a total tonal overhaul halfway through the album.

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The ambiguous nature of the album also works to its detriment. Frank’s strong suit has always been playing to the personal side of R&B. Smooth listening that you can sip whiskey to and reminisce about has been his forte. Stepping a bit away from that, the album has a generally younger tone to it. In the same space, it also feels like Frank is jaded. It almost feels like he didn’t want to build an album, but he felt that he had to for either fans or record labels. It’s a little confusing to me.

So, is Frank’s album worth a listen? Maybe. If you’re already a fan of Frank Ocean, this is probably going to be something you’ll enjoy. For new listeners, this is absolutely not something that’s worth devoting hours and hours of your time to. It’s hard not to compare it to Channel Orange, because Frank only has two albums. As a sophomore piece (even though he’s been out for much, much longer) you can definitely do worse. I think Frank still has a lot of room to grow, and this albums rushed and half cooked feeling really does feel like it. It might’ve just been something to appease fans, or build hype. Unfortunately, that hype isn’t exactly the best thing, because it has people looking for a better piece of music than we’ve actually gotten.

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