Frank Ocean’s ‘Endless’: Album Review

Jon Reyes | August 20, 2016 9:20 am
Endless (released ) brings two pieces of good news with it: It’s one of two exclusive Apple Music releases; and it serves as a real-life follow-up to Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. Everything leading up to this surprise release felt like Frank was yanking awaiting fan’s chains. Something was released and that’s better than a library card with dates on it.The visual itself is a Big Brother-type film that shows Frank building a staircase. There’s no story line. Basically, it’s the optical equivalent to watching this album actually roll out.

More:: Some Questions About Frank Ocean's 'Endless' Visual Album

Musically, Endless plays like a B-side collection of recordings that allowed Frank to tinker his way to something fuller. “Comme des Garçons,” “Florida” and “Sideways” dodge traditional R&B and barely crack the two-minute mark. Spaced between airy and synth-laden interludes are tracks “U-N-I-T-Y,” “Mine” and “Slide on Me” that show Frank leaning towards rap vocals (a la Channel Orange).

Frank’s really experimenting here, which isn’t what makes this underwhelming as a collection; it’s that you’re left wondering what the point of the project is. Yet, nothing about it is lowbrow — mastered by Mike Dean, collaborations with James Blake, Jazmine Sullivan and Sampha. Some of its tracks were recorded at Abbey Road Studios. However, Frank’s frequent producer, Malay, who’s been confirmed to have worked on new material for Frank, is nowhere on Endless.

When you take stock, Frank is priming us for something beyond Endless. We get great glimpses of the singer’s for subtle, heartfelt and cinematic delivery in “Wither” and “Rushes” — both containing Sullivan backing vocals. And the Isley Brothers cover, “At Your Best (You Are Love),” is every bit as stellar as it should be.

Without its counterpart, Endless leaves you feeling like you forgot something on your way to work so you have to turn around. And in this case, we’re turning around to wait…again.

Score: 2.5/5

— Jon Reyes

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