Frank Ocean
Channel Orange


4.5
superb

Review

by Seth Barry-Hinton USER (18 Reviews)
July 11th, 2012 | 56 replies | 9,506 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A vibrant, vivid, and above all, enjoyable experience.

22 of 22 thought this review was well written

It's been a few months since the pretty-good-but-not-great Odd Future Tape, Vol. 2 hit the shelves, and earned the group some attention again with the surprising success of Rella (and, to lesser extents, Oldie and Ned Flander). That album allowed just about every member of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All to show off their chops, be it lyrically, vocally, or production-wise. It also allows them, having introduced themselves to the world in a grandiose fashion, to begin work on various in-group collaborations and solo albums, thanks to the publicity they've received. Although the comparisons are unwelcome when it comes to style or sound, they are similar to the Wu-Tang Clan in this sense - using the group's rising fame to further their solo projects and get the word out there. It's an interesting tactic, and one that will probably prove successful.

The first to ship out their solo effort is Frank Ocean, OFWGKTA's resident crooner. His mixtape nostalgia, ULTRA was extremely well-received by most critics, and as such it attracted attention from Def Jam. It featured soulful beats and lyrics, through which Ocean seemed to pour his heart out in an honest, enjoyable, and commercially viable set of fourteen songs. Those who enjoyed that work will certainly be pleased with channel ORANGE. His debut studio album features the best aspects of its predecessor (minus any beats that may attract the wrath of '70s rock bands), and the songs all flow together into a brilliant album.

Musically, it's very tight. ORANGE features plenty of different instruments and sounds - guitars, keyboard, bass, drums, organs, video game bloops and bleeps. It all fits together in an extremely vibrant manner. Funky bass pervades the Pharrell-produced "Sweet Life", with some pleasant organ going on as it does so. The 9-minute long "Pyramids" jumps from sound to sound, going from electronic drops to electric guitar, flowing into a sonic adventure of sorts. At the other end of the spectrum, the minute long instrumental "White" (not to be confused with the OF Tape 2 song of the same name) features some slick guitar work from John Mayer, of all people. Between songs, there are frequently segue tracks, incorporating spoken words, video game music, vocal distortion, Beatles-esque organ. In fact, the album's production and musical direction calls to mind Magical Mystery Tour/White Album-era Beatles. It's crisp, lush, and colorful.

Lyrically and vocally, Ocean is on point. While it's generally melancholy stuff, none of it is nauseating or off-putting. It all feels honest, emotional, and confessional. He's excellent with imagery, calling to mind vivid and nostalgic images and smells, and is clever and witty as well (ex: "The best song wasn't the single, but you weren't either" and "The water's blue, take the pill" - "Sweet Life"). His lyrics are the most accessible of the Odd Future crew as well, which you can take as you like. Earl Sweatshirt and Andre 3000 also make appearances on the album, the former dropping a well-written verse in a hazy, lazy flow, and the latter playing guitar and doing his super-fast thing. Ocean's voice is interesting, though, in that it in itself is something of an instrument, fusing with the music as opposed to laying over it.

Overall, channel ORANGE is an excellent debut album, and Ocean and his cohorts on the album have crafted an interesting, fun, and diverse sonic experience that should keep people listening for quite some time.



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user ratings (1018)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2012



15320 Comments


Nice review, I pos'd. Keep up the good work!

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

Gyromania
July 11th 2012



15164 Comments


Dammit, you beat me to it! Will post mine very shortly. Great work though.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2012



9972 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6 | Sound Off

If this is truly only your second review, color me damn impressed. Lovely work, man.

Digging: Deniro Farrar - Rebirth

kingsoby1
Emeritus
July 11th 2012



4938 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i feel like the odd future comparison to wu tang is completely unwarranted. wu-tang clan was/is about 80% extremely talented, spawning genre classics that will be remembered in history books... whereas earl and frank ocean are the only interesting odd future cats.

besides that, review is solid, although i dont know how you could describe the production here without even mentioning funk.

henryChinaski
July 11th 2012



2680 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review. Really talented artist, his performance on Fallon was sweet.

Digging: How to Dress Well - What Is This Heart?

Emyay
July 11th 2012



5741 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

what are the standout tracks? Novacane was my favorite from ultra

EyesWideShut
July 11th 2012



3093 Comments


does this stay away from OF besides that Earl verse.. if it does ill give it a check.

Drsmith4
July 11th 2012



1710 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Don't believe the hype.

sniper
July 11th 2012



18931 Comments


also this is definitely not the first solo effort to come from the OF clan.

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

MalleusMaleficarum
July 11th 2012



13649 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thinkin Bout You / Super Rich Kids / Pilot Jones / Crack Rock / Pyramids / Lost / Bad Religion / Forrest Gump

someguest
July 11th 2012



20233 Comments


also this is definitely not the first solo effort to come from the OF clan.


He probably means the first solo effort on a major label.

Digging: Modest Mouse - The Lonesome Crowded West

Perplexion
July 11th 2012



127 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

this album is incredible

JazzHands333
July 11th 2012



312 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Sowing, Gyro, Omaha, Henry - Thank you, much appreciated!

@Soby - I had intended to mention funk in there somewhere, but it must have slipped past while I was editing. My bad. And I agree, Wu-Tang comparisons aren't viable musically or lyrically, although I like both groups a lot. But in terms of the pattern of "release a group album, then start releasing solo/in-group collabs based on the group album's hype", I can see a similarity.

@Emyay - I really liked Super Rich Kids, Sweet Life, Pink Matter, and Pilot Jones.

@EyesWideShut - It does, only Earl's verse and Tyler's production on "White" are in-group.

@Sniper/Someguest - I did mean the first major label solo effort, as well as the first solo album of 2012.


sportsboy
July 11th 2012



613 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

great review, props.
i love the attention this has been getting. channel orange is superb, but people are acting like frankie is the second coming of d'angelo, although if he keeps up with this, the comparison might be warranted.

Digging: Vektroid - Color Ocean Road

ZedO
July 11th 2012



1096 Comments


damn, i just knew there's a track titled forrest gump in this album, well i must check that one out,and pos'd you did a good work

808muzik
July 12th 2012



931 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh yeah, Pitchfork with the 9.5.

Digging: A Sunny Day in Glasgow - Sea When Absent

daIceman
July 12th 2012



388 Comments


yeah pitchfork join the hype train... 9.5? same as madvillainy, get the fuck out with that score?

but I am happy today my pre-ordered skelethon arrived...:>
Fuck OFWGTA ... ex-definitivejux cats stole the year

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

omnipanzer
July 12th 2012



21418 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I heard this album is really gay...

tee hee hee

Digging: Grant Lee Buffalo - Fuzzy

daIceman
July 12th 2012



388 Comments


"I heard this album is really gay..."

I believe :D

MalleusMaleficarum
July 12th 2012



13649 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

2 MANY BOTTLES OF DAT WINE WE CANT PRONOUNCE

2 MANY BOWLS OF DAT GREEN, NO LUCKY CHAHMZ



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