Frank Ocean
Channel Orange


4.0
excellent

Review

by Matthew D. French USER (50 Reviews)
July 11th, 2012 | 123 replies | 7,210 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Firmly cements Frank Ocean's position as far and away the most talented member of the Odd Future collective.

14 of 15 thought this review was well written

It’s difficult for me to imagine Frank Ocean being in any way associated with the Odd Future collective. I mean no offence to fans of said collective, but I haven’t found anything particularly worthy of note from its members. For the most part they sound as you’d expect: young, amateurish hip-hoppers - Tyler, The Creator being the most juvenile and naive of the lot. It’s surprising, then, that the visionary of the group would be working in the realm of R&B, a genre that, aside from Abel Tesfaye, hasn’t seen much innovation for quite some time. Moreover, it’s fascinating to think of how accomplished Ocean already is at the young age of 24, and as daringly bold as it may sound, he seems destined to be one of the genre’s saving graces. I know, many have all but exhausted such sentiments, but Ocean’s brand of R&B warrants such unified hyperbole. On Channel Orange, his first major label debut, Ocean finds the perfect dichotomy between experimentation and accessibility, making it seem like the logical progression from 2011’s Nostalgia, Ultra, an album whose best songs borrowed from other established artists. This time, Ocean is creating something he can call his own.

Comparatively, Nostalgia, Ultra played it a little safe, lifting samples from other artists to yield a new aesthetic meaning (“Strawberry Swing,” “Nature Feels"). Channel Orange, on the other hand, is far more focused, inventive, and sounds like the work of an artist in their prime, even if it’s only Ocean’s first proper LP. Instead of asserting sexuality and themes of misogyny and ‘club life’ (or what have you) as many of his contemporaries are wont to do, Ocean presents us with themes of unrequited love and class disparity (“Super Rich Kids”). He’s somewhat a lyrical virtuoso in how he employs literary devices and details his songs through emotional confessionals. He’s also gives off a cultural/political awareness, like in “Super Rich Kids” when he speaks of economic inequality in a scathing and humorous way: “The maid comes around too much / Parents ain’t around enough / Too many joy rides in daddy’s jaguar / Too many white lies – and white lines”. His cattiness is amusing and very refreshing, but Channel Orange isn’t just a platform for his lyrical side. The best part is, his idiosyncratic style doesn’t overstep his ability to turn a ridiculously infectious hook; “Monks” and “Thinking Bout You” make nods to Usher’s heydey as Ocean suavely croons over hauntingly beautiful melodies. Elsewhere, he’s making allusions to movies and such (“Forest Gump”) and laying claim to some of the most infectious songs of the year like “Lost,” which features a chorus so hooky that it’s bound to get stuck in your head for days on end. And even though it champions catchy vocal hooks and melodies, Channel Orange is, in a big way, R&B in an unconventional way; “Pyramids” is the most telling of this. At nearly 10 minutes, it undergoes several changes and is separated into two halves by a dark ambient piece very much in the vein of Boards of Canada.

Ocean doesn’t deserve all of the credit, however. Through the deft production handling of James Ho, the mastering of Vlado Miller, and several guest spots, Channel Orange sounds varied and focused. Andre 3000 of Outkast lends a soulful vocal performance as well as electro-soul guitar playing on “Pink Matter,” and John Mayer (unsurprisingly) delivers some tastefully breezy guitar work on “White”. Guitar, strings, drums, organ, television and game interludes, etc., all help to make Channel Orange the album it is, and the production is near flawless. Many of Channel Orange’s songs also have a noir-esque motif to them, evoking references and themes from the ‘80s which will be immediately recognizable to most (looking specifically at “Bad Religion” and “ Sierre Leone”).

In short: Frank Ocean’s debut album is a huge success. It’s the kind of witty, tasteful R&B album that’s been missing from the scene, and it’s fated to be loved by purveyors of music criticism and anyone who comes across it. It’s hard to think of another man who’s risen from such inauspicious beginnings to, well, something so awesome, and this young star deserves all the laudatory notice coming his way. You’d have to be incredibly jaded about the genre to not appreciate this.



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user ratings (1039)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
related reviews

Nostalgia, Ultra

Comments:Add a Comment 
Gyromania
July 11th 2012



15493 Comments


Voilà

Album stream: http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/news/id.20029/title.frank-ocean-channel-orange-album-
stream

chesse13
July 11th 2012



2555 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

both reviews are pretty good. I think it's about time i listened to this

Digging: Slint - Tweez

sniper
July 11th 2012



19048 Comments


good review. pos.

streamed this last night and it was pretty cool, gonna need to spend a little more time with it though.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2012



4410 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Great review, Gyro. POS'd.

Check out "Lost" and "Pyramid" and it sounds like great album.

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

Drsmith4
July 11th 2012



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Excellent review. Well written and instructive and everything. I guess I'm missing something that lots of y'all hear in this. "Pyramids," "Thinkin Bout You," "Lost," and "Pink Matter" are pretty cool.



AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
July 11th 2012



7326 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Predictably excellent review Matt.

I've not heard this yet but the preview songs were great.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
July 11th 2012



7326 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

double post

Rev
July 11th 2012



9408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I didnt care for Nostalgia, Ultra but I need to check this out


Fantastic review Matt, here's to you becoming contributor

Gyromania
July 11th 2012



15493 Comments


Cheers, folks.

Daniel: That's fair. I can certainly see someone not being head over heels in love with this, but it looks like you at least enjoy a good chunk of it. Add "Bad Religion" to that list and you have my favourites.

Ali: This seems like something you might like. I can see someone not keen on R&B being initially put-off by the vocals, but the music at hand is gorgeous, and I've come to really appreciate Ocean's voice.


Ire
July 11th 2012



41754 Comments


oh man it's like you're a real reviewer now congrats

but srsly yeah good review

tarkus
July 11th 2012



5560 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

cool album anything over 4 is pushing it though

pos

Gyromania
July 11th 2012



15493 Comments


Ire: not sure I get your first point, but thanks!

Tarkus: I didn't think you'd like this at all to be honest.

Glad to see people are liking this.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2012



15889 Comments


oh look a good gyromania review

no surprise there

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

Gyromania
July 11th 2012



15493 Comments


love you sowing :]

tarkus
July 11th 2012



5560 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i loved the weeknd so i checked him

nostalgia, ultra was cool i gave it the same rating as this

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2012



10064 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6 | Sound Off

Don't have a chance to read this all the way through, but what a great read so far, man.

Caught one mistake - "Nature Feels" in the beginning of the second paragraph needs a closing quotes.

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

Lightsspon2
July 11th 2012



20 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

I like the review that give this album a 1

Gyromania
July 11th 2012



15493 Comments


Good catch, dude. Cheers.

someguest
July 11th 2012



20393 Comments


I'll have to check this out. And the videos in your first comment were taken down.

Gyromania
July 11th 2012



15493 Comments


Damn, sorry about that. Replaced it with an album stream.



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