Blonde, Frank Ocean’s 2nd studio album, transposes crystal-clear artistry through clairvoyant complexion; spiritual, glistening, and somewhat mesmerizing, the avant-garde pop project stands as one of deep-rooted expression considering lost love, introspection, and esteem for the lime-light’s most exquisite absurdities. Frank Ocean largely said nothing in the three years leading up to his eventual sophomore record in 2016. After a critically acclaimed, Grammy-touting Channel Orange debut in 2012, many were eager to hear from Frank again. However, he was oddly reserved and aloof despite wide-spread praise for his vocal talent and ear for experimental production. He stopped doing interviews, vanished from social media platforms, and strongly implied his next move would remain a mystery for everyone else.
These b*tches want Nikeeeeeeeee
Alright, you have to admit that’s a bold first line for one of popular culture’s most anticipated, and elongated, albums of the 2010's. “Nikes” begins with high-pitched vocals name dropping public figures such as Anthony Carmelo, A$AP Yams, and Trayvon Martin. The added octaves push the lyrics open for interpretation. I heard the following for the longest time:
You’re young and you’re brave, give it time
In reality, Frank sings:
You’ve been holding your breath, weighted down
I’ve noticed many instances of multifaceted word play on Blonde. This is actually a sign of exceptional song writing. Whenever an artist can emit sounds and pass them off for the listener to decipher themselves, that’s a win.
“Ivy” sounds (and feels) like really bad, dissonant heartbreak.
I could hate you now, it’s quite alright to hate me now
It’s the same tried and true tail of break ups... “we’ll still be friends, we’ll still talk…” only to have everything you two ever had slowly fade to nothingness.
I ain’t a kid no more, we’ll never be those kids again… it’s not the same
Ow, it hits very hard in the feels actually. No matter how much you miss the bliss and lust of the past, those emotions only live in memory.
3/Pink + White
Clouds — I can describe this track no other way, it’s very soft and sweet, especially the way it abruptly flutters underway. Frank Ocean is a former member of Odd Future and remains good friends with Tyler, the Creator; I can’t help but feel he inspired this track. We also hear the first instance of birds chirping on “Ivy,” a reoccurring sound throughout the project.
The first interlude, or skit, on Blonde entails authoritative, yet seemingly genuine, advice from a distant motherly figure. “Stop trying to be someone else, don’t try to be someone else, be yourself and know that that’s good enough” she says.
Over top sentimental organ keys, the 5th track offers some of the most creative writing on the album. Mom’s former advice of “do not do this, do not consume that” is met by the following bars:
Hand me a towel, I’m dirty dancing by myself, gone off tabs of that acid
This record is one of somber reflection; on the year that flew by and last night’s pretty fu*king, to be more specific. The song begins on an intimate, moon-lit summer night and ends behind the wheel of a crisp, orangey morning cruise.
Sunrise and sin, comes a morning haunting us with the beams
Solstice ain’t as far as it used to be
There’s more birds. Tyler Gregory Okonma is credited as a contributor.
I rarely say songs are perfect, but this song is perfect. Without a doubt, this is the most striking, awe-inspiring vocal performance on blond. When he sings “Wish I was there” I cannot explain what that does to me. Seventh songs are known for being “sweet spots” among sets. There’s something about this specific placement on albums that welcomes the best an artist has to offer. In summer of 2018, Kanye West dropped a series of albums, each exactly seven cuts long. In terms of track lists, it’s a good number.
Frank Ocean is gay.
“Nights” is the best song on Blonde for its morphing production and iridescent mood swings; there are precisely three parts to the song. Every 100 seconds (1:40) there’s a significant change in the beat.
The first leg features bells sparkling, registering over retro guitar riffs — hi-hats rattle underneath as Frank projects:
Breath til I evaporate
My whole body see-through
Frank’s gorgeous vocal presence rings true alongside subtle, harmonizing saints; at the 1:40 mark, there’s a “new beginning.” The middle act starts and slows to a shady roll, ah the sun’s going down, time to start your day bruh. 100 seconds later, a climatic guitar glitch sends listeners into the third and final act which I’ll describe as an ambient amalgamation of fluttering hits, hollers, and placid piano keys.
Tracks 10–14 starkly summarized:
- Solo (Reprise) - So low that I can see under the skirt of an ant! 3K genius
- Tracks 11–13 - Interludes and sound bites adding narrative to the record
- White Ferrari - Wide open and glamorous, yet somehow private and personal
This song usually draws me back to Blonde — I come back for Seigfried.
The lyrics are contemplative, questioning the physical (and probably mental) distance Frank’s placed between himself, peers, loved ones, and even society at large. He’s responsible for his actions, although external forces seem to have driven him to his current state of misfortune; “I’d rather live outside,” he says.
Been living in an idea, an idea from another man’s mind
Maybe I’m a fool, to settle for a place with some nice views
There’s an obvious internal battle taking place as the production fizzles, distorts, and intensifies. Love seems to have been lost — there’s an aura of disassociation with self-image, environment, and reality.
This is not my life, it’s just a fond farewell to a friend
Feelings of recollection and longing poetically pour out all over the latter half of “Seigfried.” As Frank dwells on his gifts for a second, it’s just a moment. Despite success, his appurtenances significantly pale in comparison to the sorrow and disconnect he feels regarding the one he truly cares about.
Maybe have a good cry… about you
Last Songs Two Songs
“Godspeed” and “Future Free” are completely open to interpretation; I have no clue what to make of them. Above all else, they offer proper sentiments of closure for the album. I will say, the very last narrative — and I mean the very last island of sound on “Future Free” — is kind of like a riddle… when you finally get it, everything comes full circle and makes sense.
Blonde is a pristine body of work, full of character and soul. The lyrical content induces joy and justifiable self-reflection, while the production is sporadically sweet, ever-changing, and sprinkled with moody twists and turns; this project encapsulates Frank Ocean’s intricate wonder and imagination while also beautifully depicting his artistic talent as an experience to be had.