Frank Ocean
Nostalgia, Ultra


2.5
average

Review

by Beram C. Lansay USER (21 Reviews)
April 21st, 2011 | 119 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Immaturity in the form of R&B

80/100 - The New York Times
83/100 - Reviler
7.8/10 - Pitchfork
4.5/5 - Hawks

Perhaps I'm missing something – maybe Nostalgia, Ultra has a certain subtlety that my ears fail to discover? Perhaps not.

Frank Ocean – the sexy side of Odd Future – embraces the power of R&B with his debut album Nostalgia, Ultra. Frank is no stranger to the music industry either, co-writing songs for Justin Bieber, John Legend, and Brandy amongst others. With this sort of experience, you would expect a certain lyrical maturity from his work – unfortunately, for the most part, we don't get this. What we do get is a kid stumbling into the occasional heartfelt moment, plagued by a lack of depth – or intelligence for that matter.

There are some aspects to be liked about the album. The well placed use of sampling provides an interesting take on the originals – ”Strawberry Swing” uses Coldplay's track of the same title; “Nature Feels” uses “Electric Feel” by MGMT; and “American Wedding” uses, of all things, The Eagles' “Hotel California”. The interludes are fantastic as well. These short sound clips of Frank switching cassette tapes gives the album a very personal feel – as if this is a mixtape Mr. Ocean made for you. The tracks ”Strawberry Swing” and ”Nature Feels” are clear highlights on Nostalgia, Ultra. "Strawberry Swing” is an incredibly heartfelt recollection of childhood memories while ”Nature Feels” is a clever display of sexual wordplay. The rest of the album fails to follow suit though.

With the album starting strong on ”Strawberry Swing”, it seems ironic that the song ends with the buzzing of a morning alarm. The dream is over. Without the use of samples, the song's instrumentals become quite insipid to say the least. Most appear minimalist - which isn't a bad thing per-say – but really fall flat in the end. The tracks just feel hollow, which in turn accentuates Frank's voice. This would be fine, that is if Frank didn't rape the ability to auto-tune. Sure, his use of auto-tune is subtle when compared to, say, T-Pain. The problem is when you start to hear it on every track, it really wears thin. It's truly tragic that he uses it so often; his voice is nothing short of fantastic when shown in a natural light. Of course it doesn't help Frank's case that his lyrics are quite childish too. Frank attempts at substance on the track ”Swim Good” with the chorus:

”Imma try to swim from something bigger than me
Kick off my shoes and swim good, and swim good
Take off this suit and swim good, and swim good, good”


If you heard someone speaking like that you would probably speculate if they were mentally handicapped. The thing is, if there is a lack of lyrical depth, you would at least expect the artist to rhyme to keep it catchy. Frank rarely does that though, and when he does, it's painfully obvious:

"My friend said it wasn't so bad
you can't miss what you ain't had
well I can - I'm sad
and there will be tears"


Man, if that doesn't make you cry then what will. The album, lyrically speaking, is perfectly summed up by the track ”LoveCrimes” in which Frank draws out the same, boring lines for about 4 minutes:

”Murder
Murder
Murder she wrote
Love crimes
Love crimes"
(repeat x5)


Ultimately there isn't much more to say about this album – especially considering it doesn't say much for itself. The beats are uninspired; the lyrics are downright stupid at times; and Frank kills the one positive – his voice – by auto-tuning it incessantly. If it weren't for the occasional moment (see sampled songs) there wouldn't be anything to discuss at all. R&B should be clever, well produced, and above all things, sexy. Nostalgia, Ultra is most certainly not.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
lancebramsay
April 21st 2011


1585 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Woah who is this guy hating on Frank Ocean?

Neg.

lancebramsay
April 21st 2011


1585 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I don't see why people have a vendetta against auto-tune when it's used for artistic effect, in
my opinion it's applied rather tastefully in this case. If it's used to cover up the fact that
somebody is sub-par at singing then it's a different story.
Problem is he has a great voice and
hides it beneath auto-tune. I really felt it detracted from the album's merit. On the other hand, if
someone can't sing, I'd prefer them to use auto-tune. I would much rather hear auto-tune than a shitty
voice.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
April 21st 2011


23973 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

80/100 - The New York Times
83/100 - Reviler
7.8/10 - Pitchfork
4.5/5 - Hawks


hahahahahahahaha, best intro ever

excellent review. I still haven't gotten around to hearing this, although I've heard a few of the tracks.

Digging: Taylor Swift - 1989

lancebramsay
April 21st 2011


1585 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I still haven't gotten around to hearing this, although I've heard a few of the tracks.
For some strange reason, people are drooling over this album. Give it a spin - the sampled tracks are a pretty good listen.

Tupik
April 21st 2011


673 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Love the intro, well-written as well. I've yet to listen to this though, not sure if I will.

pos

Ire
April 21st 2011


41822 Comments


...

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha



Hep Kat
April 21st 2011


15356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pretentious

lancebramsay
April 21st 2011


1585 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

pretentious
My dream is to become a Pitchfork writer. Seriously though, the lyrics say
it all.

Hep Kat
April 21st 2011


15356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pretentisosuidaioxzzzzz

defjaw83
April 21st 2011


1775 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

No mention of Novacane?? Best track on the album and the lyrics aren't bad either. Guess you were pretty focused on the bashing

Transient
April 21st 2011


1461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

'If you heard someone speaking like that you would probably speculate if they were mentally handicapped.'

You're an idiot.

RATINGS:
4.5/5
Radiohead OK Computer

'Rain Down, Rain Down, Come On Rain Down On Me
From A Great Height, From A Great Height, Height
Rain Down, Rain Down, Come On Rain Down On Me
From A Great Height, From A Great Height, Height'

WHAT KIND OF A RETARD TALKS LIKE THIS? 0/5

letsgofishing
April 21st 2011


908 Comments


At least Yorke used proper english.

Haven't heard the album so can't really make that much of a judgement. I find focusing on lyrical content can be a
pretty cheap way of attacking an album, but, besides that, this review was entertaining as hell to read, and generally
well done. And I don't see anyone beating that intro today. POS'd

captaincrunch11
April 21st 2011


1241 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha an honest review. album is prett good.

EaglesBecomeVultures
April 21st 2011


5269 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hahaha lancebramsay has obviously never listened to an R&B record before.

Digging: Dean Blunt - Black Metal

defjaw83
April 21st 2011


1775 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

You could possibly be overthinking this one. It's a fun summer album to chill to that's all

AggravatedYeti
April 21st 2011


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

please never begin your review speaking about how other publications (or hawks lolz) think something is good when you don't.

no one gives a shit what other people think when they're reading your review; we're reading because we care what you think. Even using it as a point of argument is a bit shaky as then you're arguing more so that your opinion is different than more respected sources (sans Hawks lolz). Leave that type of banter for comments; it looks unprofessional.

also I don't know wtf you're going on about with the lyrics please listen to "Novocaine," "There Will Be Tears," "American Wedding" and "Songs For Women" and explain to me how they're not mature.

If you heard someone speaking like that you would probably speculate if they were mentally handicapped. The thing is, if there is a lack of lyrical depth, you would at least expect the artist to rhyme to keep it catchy. Frank rarely does that though, and when he does, it's painfully obvious:

"My friend said it wasn't so bad
you can't miss what you ain't had
well I can - I'm sad
and there will be tears"


there is massive lyrical depth here (in the song) and no need to rhyme. Also when the fuck did rhyming "solve" anything musically?

Review is well written but a lot of your arguments are pretty weightless. I understand it is all opinion but you could back up your gripes better dude.

Hawks
April 21st 2011


35838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Who the fuck is this kid? Lol and obviously more people agree with me than you.

alachlahol
April 21st 2011


7509 Comments


hawks dont even start u got slammed

Hawks
April 21st 2011


35838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm not starting anything haha. It's cool.

cirq
April 21st 2011


9265 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh you fuckin cunt.



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