Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’: Review Revue

Robbie Daw | August 23, 2016 11:42 am

To “e” or not to “e”? Okay, that’s probably not the only question you have after listening to Frank Ocean‘s new album Blonde (or, um, Blond). Indeed, the R&B singer’s long-awaited Channel Orange follow-up has listeners struggling to fit the LP into any sort of neat, tidy category.

Equally mystified are the online critics who have taken it upon themselves to review Blonde in the days following its release this past weekend. Here on Idolator, we noted in our own write-up yesterday that “as much as Ocean channels his personal life to tell the stories found on Blond, his references remain obscured by metaphor. It’s there where you find the 28 year old’s willingness to play for us, allowing his experiences to converge with ours in some way. Then it stops being about Frank Ocean and the mystery is finally over.”

Below, see what other corners of the Internet had to say about Frank’s sophomore album.

:: Rolling Stone declares in its four-star review, “On Blonde, dizziness is a common sensation. The album is by turns oblique, smolderingly direct, forlorn, funny, dissonant and gorgeous: a vertiginous marvel of digital-age psychedelic pop.”

:: The Chicago Tribune says the album was worth the wait: “The penultimate track, ‘Godspeed’,” plays like a goodbye to boyhood and an affirmation of what will endure. Ocean sings like he’s in church, and his tone is open, a quiver of emotion audible. An organ plays, and it’s as if he’s envisioning the Last Supper: ‘The table is prepared for you’. It turns out that while his fans were busy waiting, Frank Ocean was preparing a feast.”

:: The Verge notes the challenge the album presents to listeners: “Blonde is gorgeous, painful, serious, and sensitive. And no matter what, you couldn’t have expected it, because you can’t predict something that never stays the same.”

:: Stereogum admits, “It’ll take time to figure out what Ocean is thinking on Blonde, and it’ll take time to figure out what I think of it. (My first thought on ‘Nikes’: ‘This is barely a song. Fuck.’ My first thought on ‘Ivy’: ‘This sounds like Usher singing for Deerhunter, and I am immediately in love’.) But there are immediate moments here, moments where everything suddenly snaps into focus…”

:: Says Entertainment Weekly, “Blonde reflects the anxieties many Americans might feel today, whether brought on by racial tension (‘Nikes’), domestic uncertainty (‘Seigfried’) or social media (‘Facebook Story’). It’s ambitious, sure, but Ocean tackles those concepts with such strikingly intimate tunes, it feels as if you’re slyly scrolling through his texts.”

:: The Telegraph praises the album with a four-star review: “It is druggy, romantic and homoerotic, a mellifluous concoction of shimmering melodic haze and ambient mood, almost entirely absent of anything resembling a singalong chorus or club groove… Whether it’s the exact shade for you or not, I suspect Blonde (or Blond) is an album that will make an indelible mark on pop culture.”

:: GQ rates Blonde above Channel Orange: “It is a step-up from his debut album in that he presents the true Frank Ocean, not this man who has been essentially in hiding for the past four years – and not hiding behind persona, as such as Forrest Gump.”

:: Summing it all up, states, “Ocean’s Blonde, which dropped Saturday, is a living embodiment of this mission — more so than Channel Orange, more so than Nostalgia Ultra. It sets the stage for a more inscrutable and mystifying release than anything most late-aughts pop and R&B listeners have likely attempted to digest. In the end, though, it’s a far more necessary one. Peel back the skin of dense, hallucinatory poetry, and there’s so much food for the soul.”

What are your own thoughts on Frank Ocean’s new album? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!