Frank Ocean’s brand of almost emo R&B is altering the perception of the genre as one simply centered on a sometimes shallow understanding of love and sexuality. The complexity of his lyrics have breached the confines of the internet and made his first single, “Novacane” from his Nostalgia, Ultra mixtape from the OFWGKTA collective a sensation. Most of the headlines now read about his now open lifestyle and his romantic encounters with the same sex. Along with the breaking news of his sexual orientation came the release of his first studio album, Channel Orange.
The charm behind Frank Ocean’s music has always been it’s vulnerability. True to himself, Channel Orange comes across as a diary. His deeply personal accounts and detailed songwriting style is extended onto this album. Most of his songs read like stories and contain often pensive observations of love, as is the case of “Bad Religion.” The single is about unrequited love, but it would be impossible not to think about it in context. The news of his sexuality adds a new dimension the track. Instead of lauding the drama or the purity of love, he explores the nuances and the unseen complications that occur behind closed doors.
On “Pink Matter,” Ocean collaborates with Andre 3000 on what can only be described as abstract R & B. The title itself does lend itself to the imagination. This is a perfect pairing; both are matched in creativity. Andre 3000 takes a more reflective approach than usual here. Needless to say, this is one of the best tracks.
It is not all raindrops and tears though. A quick listen to “Golden Girl,” which features Tyler, the Creator will uplift and inspire a more sun drenched sense of love. The atypical sentimentality and sexuality of the genre is not at all lost on this album. There is something universal about love—regardless of whom it is with.
written by Linda Li for Parlé Magazine
Channel Orange receives a PAR