Review Summary: frank ocean threw his ambitions at the wall and whatever didn’t stick he taped it up anyway and showed the world.
I’ve had a difficult relationship with Frank Ocean’s debut Nostalgia, Ultra
since being bombarded with it not three months ago after scouring for more artists akin to Abel Tesfaye. It wasn’t until recently that it struck me as this being a natural comfort with what Ocean created; I get the feeling this is the way Ocean devised Nostalgia’s
experience. This record isn’t meant to be broken down line by line because even he knows far from perfect and it’s probably meant that way. The man delivers a subtle hedonistic honesty beneath his verbose daydreams that swallow the surrounding world and let his words freehand you a new one. One where he meets women at hipster crowded concerts that seem to have just come down from an absorbing high with The Weeknd
, and Muse’s who haunt libraries with a smile that’s all but toxic to our estranged painter. I say estranged because Ocean has a deft way of concocting his fantasies; in such a manner that separates him from his contemporaries with too much on their mind to actually, you know, fantasize. His organic flow hears him repeat words often as is if masquerading time in order to pick the perfect words to follow his sometimes unbalanced train of thought. It all aids a man who’s lost in his own self-awareness and indulgence. But Ocean’s biggest strength is the depth to his imagination. He saturates tracks with pristine ambiance and grooves that settle neatly with talks of bi
tches who don’t know Radiohead
and questions of whether our flag is really on the moon; the gap between this material is easily bridged with these swirling atmospheres and tongue-in-cheek topics making the experience wholly human. And here’s where Ocean comes full circle. In the end Nostalgia, Ultra
, from its blatantly obvious title to its creators’ dream car dawning the cover, represents a man finally achieving what he’s always wanted – to make music. Within this music he follows today’s jackpot trends - overly open hearted lyrics with a touch of cynicism and remorse and/or hope attached – and yet, beneath all that, brews a surprisingly relatable character in a world most of us have lived in just never thought the words to explain it. He sets himself up for failure, sometimes intentionally, but it’s all to build his resume and at least claim that ‘he tried’. This is quite enviable and partly the reason I can’t stomach too much of Nostalgia
in one sitting. Not because it’s detestable, no far from it, but because it almost should be. Frank Ocean threw his ambitions at the wall and whatever didn’t stick he taped it up anyway and showed the world.