Frank Ocean elated the world of music with his sophomore album Channel Orange, released on July 10, 2013. Although, after a positive wave of critical reviews from world-renown critics, a Grammy award for Urban Contemporary Album of the Year and a multitudinous amount of analyzations of what Channel Orange is, as art, Ocean disappeared. Critics and fans alike interrogated and critiqued Ocean on his absence, and created questions on if the talented artist would ever return, or if that, be capable of producing a product to the caliber of Channel Orange.
After four years of silence, speculation and insinuations of his return, Frank Ocean stopped the world’s orbit and released “Blonde” on Aug. 20.
There’s a fighting urge to compare and contrast Channel Orange and Blonde. There are blatant similarities between the two: the production is very distinct, and his voice still coincides with his precise instrumentals as well as anyone in musical history. He coexists with the production, both extremely dependent on one another. His baritone and tenor hybrid vocal range still floats elegantly through tracks as the melodies create homely imagery.
However, there’s a similar and polar urge to not compare the two whatsoever. It’s impossible to interpret the meaning of Blond this early. There have been four more years of attempts to comprehend what Channel Orange is, understanding Blond shouldn’t even be in the question. With scattered themes of growth, sexuality, fluidity, darkness and happiness, the album is too intricate for ripe interpretation
However, maybe it’s not about understanding, but enjoying Ocean’s gifts. Standout tracks such as “Ivy”, “Pink + White” and “Seigfried”, are listening experiences- miniature audio odysseys, Ocean has a similar power only movie composers withhold while scoring films, putting the audience in new worlds through the bridge of sound.
Comparison kills, but it is transparent that even after the release of Channel Orange, Blond is a fresh work of art that the world has never witnessed before. Frank Ocean is special, and will only improve from here.