“It begins to blur, we get older,” Frank Ocean sings on the track, “Skyline To,” from his newest album, Blonde. “Summer’s not as long as it used to be, every day counts like crazy.”
This line embodies everything that characterizes Blonde; it’s raw, emotional, and it captures the abstract human sensations we all know. Blonde, released on Aug. 20, makes extensive use of samples to capture the universality of his messages, borrowing melodies and lyrics from artists like the Beatles and Stevie Wonder.
The album is elusive, waving the common thread of interpersonal connection between lyrics that capture the chaos of being human. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what was on Ocean’s mind when he created the album, as he makes various statements, some comprehensible, others not, throughout the different tracks. One thing is for certain: Ocean was not concerned with being renowned when creating this album, which is filled with self-reflection and creative experimentation.
The first track, “Nikes,” has an atmospheric sound, and Ocean’s flowing vocals contemplate what it means to love and have fame in this world. On a different note, one of the most striking lines of this album is snuck into this song under the mask of an easygoing falsetto: “R.I.P. Trayvon, that n#$&* look just like me.”
Ocean makes many statements throughout the album, ranging from topics of race relations to what he deems as being truly important in life, as seen on the track, “Seigfried.” Ocean is not afraid of roughness; he scorns the effects of social media, reflects on drug and alcohol use and mourns past relationships.
All these ideas culminate in the final track, “Futura Free.” This song is brimming with a longing for youth, even designing instrumentals that make one reminisce about the good old days. Ocean touches on the importance of family, human connection and aspirations.
Blonde is perplexing, drawing from different genres depending on the track, using ambiguity throughout the concepts it covers and, generally, inducing an array of conflicting moods in the listener. However, the jagged edges of this album are what allow it to encapsulate what it truly means to live. Blonde is reminiscent of naive and youthful romance, the pain of life not working out how you dreamt and everything in between.
Ocean pushed boundaries with Blonde, hypnotizing listeners and giving insight into his world. You can feel the authenticity in sound and thought as Ocean works through the messiness of life in Blonde.
This messiness is constant, acting as the backbone that supports all of Ocean’s other ideas. The theme first introduces itself in “Nikes” as Ocean laments how fame has led him to shallow relationships, and carries itself all the way through to “Futura Free,” in which Ocean comments that his feeling of godliness is flawed.
Ocean finishes Blonde by including a conversation with his brother, in which Ocean is asked, “Talents, got any secret talents?” Ocean responds, “I don’t think so, I’m pretty open in everything that I do.”
Ocean crafted the last track to not only perplex listeners, but give them a further look into his mind and soul. This final interview encapsulates everything that Blonde stands for: truth and sincerity.