We live in a world where society expects so much from creatives. Artists now possess contractual, social and cultural responsibilities that extend beyond an LP or tour. Whilst Kendrick and Bey are fronting the #blacklivesmatter movement, Frank Ocean has been insular, providing limited comment as an artist of colour. Four years after the release of his magnum opus Channel Orange, the rightfully busy, Frank Ocean has released a string of introspective tracks.
Ocean's prolonged marketing campaign commenced with #trendy visual album Endless. Rumour has it, the album was released only to fulfill his contractual obligations with his major, giving him the opportunity to release Blonde "independently". Exclusively released by Apple Music, the album offers a surprisingly limited insight into his creative process.
While Ocean's contemporaries (see Bryson Tiller, Miguel & Jeremih) have released instrumentally and conceptually elaborate LPs, Blonde finds power in it's simplicity and raw emotion. It is an album that comes across as subtle and subdued, but reveals its charms after repeated listens. Gradually, it's genius unfolded. "Nights" merges acoustic guitar with a strong urban styled base, fading into heavy synths demonstrating a diverse and ambitious aesthetic. "Self Control" and "White Ferrari" might just be the most quietly devastating tracks of 2016. "Pink + White" and "Ivy" are repeat offenders in the Isolated Nation office playlist. Team consensus on the remainder is whilst honest, intimate and soulful they are not 100% fulfilling.
With a rather strange list of featured credits including Brian Eno (minimal KING), Elliott Smith (the original sad boy), David Bowie (God himself RIP) and the Beatles (duh), Ocean has us questioning in what capacity did these artists contribute to the production of the album? Especially one that was on the ultimate DL? After a failed attempt at identifying relevant samples, sneaky Frank must be paying a lil bit of homage to the greats.
Franky~ Bueno follow up & looking forward to 2020.
Words: Sarah Marshman, Daniel Morey, Matt Spence & Megan Neale.
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Our picks for upcoming gigs, events and music releases for the next fortnight!
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