Frank Ocean
Channel Orange


4.6
superb

Review

by Jacob Royal STAFF
March 18th, 2013 | 161 replies | 11,472 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Frank Ocean officially loses himself, and relies on us to pick up the pieces.

Admittedly, deciding to drive to Savannah, Georgia wasn't a well-planned decision. I essentially had no idea it was going to happen until it happened, and so the whole affair was incredibly hasty. Upon preparing for the trip back home, I looked through the list of necessary items, and added “a good playlist.” It made sense, right? After all, I've got that new Intronaut album I need to review in the next couple weeks, so it would definitely help to become familiar with the band's discography, yada yada. And that idea had good intentions, but it simply didn't happen. I listened to the album once, sure, but my mind was so fixated on other releases that I didn't absorb the experience like I should have. My mind kept running back to Channel Orange-- the album I rented from the local library last week, the record that had been playing in my car during all the smaller trips. Once I realized this, nothing else would do.

Frank Ocean's first full-fledged contribution to the R&B world made the ride a blast. There's something special about being on the road for four hours, thinking about everything you'd prefer not to think about, as the playful “Crack Rock” coalesces into the shimmering intro to “Pyramids.” The transition makes much more sense in this context, and it illustrates something that's very important to understand about Frank Ocean. I think he really does feel similarly in his life, like he's always going and never really reaching his destination, persistently driving towards that sunset until there's not much sunset left to drive towards. It's an exhausting experience, too; that whole “it's not the destination, but the journey itself” philosophy can be pretty shoddy in that regard. And it seems Ocean knows this, because throughout the duration of Channel Orange it's clear that the musician probably isn't completely satisfied with the album. Considering its obviously meticulous production and vocal performances, Channel Orange endlessly strives towards perfection. The album's a learning process, though, and there are certainly a couple of things that weren't as effective as they could have been. Ocean probably wishes he could extinguish his songs just as interestingly as he ignited them in the first place, and I hate that this means he probably didn't get as much out of the album as his fans did.

We've all lived and breathed Channel Orange at some point in time, and sure, Frank set that musical train in motion in the first place, but he hasn't gotten to ride it and probably never will. He probably won't ever feel the purpose behind “Super Rich Kids” while driving through the parades in Savannah on St. Patrick's Day, an event where college kids like to pretend their ancestry allows them infinite access to alcohol. Did he have this in mind while writing the song? I can imagine so, in some sense of the word. Will he ever see it really come to life like I have? Doubtful.

The most interesting thing about Channel Orange is that it conveys all these conflicting emotions-- caution a la “Crack Rock,” perilously strong desires in “Thinkin' 'Bout You,” etc-- in such a cohesive manner. It's impossible to imagine the album without any of its key tracks, even the subtler ones. Even “Pilot Jones,” subdued and cautious as it is, finds a home in between all the neon lights and bombast present. This album covers so much ground it can't really find a home at the end of the day, which is precisely why it's such a perfect fit for me.



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user ratings (982)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
related reviews

Nostalgia, Ultra

Comments:Add a Comment 
Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2013



9518 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6 | Sound Off

Look up the definition of the phrase "on a whim" in your local phrasal dictionary, and this review will be right there for your convenience.

Digging: Koan Sound - Dynasty

kingsoby1
Emeritus
March 18th 2013



4835 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i love where he's trying to go with this record, but i get really frustrated at how unfinished at least half of these ideas are.

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2013



9518 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6 | Sound Off

I definitely feel your frustration at how the songs end-- I wish they had proper denouements. Is that your issue with the album, though, or is it something bigger?

Gyromania
March 18th 2013



14653 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

i'll be on the road in about two weeks for roughly 14 hours or so. as a person who's taken many road trips and travelled far and wide, i can safely affirm that yes, it's fun to plan out a playlist and what not, but that never works. man's best laid plans oft go astray.

anyway, i love this album wholeheartedly. thinkin 'bout you, pyramids, bad religion, super rich kids, lost - all phenomenal. album is in constant rotation.

Gyromania
March 18th 2013



14653 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

my problem with this album is that it's a little inconsistent. i think ocean has a lot of ideas that he hasn't fully fleshed out here, and a result, we have a somewhat scatterbrained record with everything thrown at the wall. thankfully, most of it sticks, and the highlights are magnificent, but ultimately it's a little bloated. that and i think that he could possibly re-order the tracklisting and make this flow a little better.

stopbanningchamberd
March 18th 2013



201 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

my problem with this album is it's not the 20/20 experience

MichaelSnoxall
March 18th 2013



12163 Comments


This album has a track called Bad Religion? THAT'S MY FAVOURITE BAND EVER. Gonna have to actually listen to this. I didn't like Nostalgia, Ultra. though.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
March 18th 2013



4835 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yes, the unfinished ideas really bring down the record for me. pyramids will be considered a timeless classic song, same with bad religion, but the rest of the tracks have this real unfinished vibe to them. dont get me wrong, im at like a 4.1 or 4.2 and will probably own this on vinyl, but still.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
March 18th 2013



4835 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

not liking nostalgia ultra is akin to not liking fun

Gyromania
March 18th 2013



14653 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqkYW_vcyPw - bad religion

Tyrael
March 18th 2013



20442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Justin Timberlake >

Gyromania
March 18th 2013



14653 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

lol you guys are the worst

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2013



9518 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6 | Sound Off

Guys can you tell me if this review was cool, it was a big change for me and I think it worked well but I could be on crack rock!

GoatsOnABoat
March 18th 2013



57 Comments


Great review, but it seems to stop too early, and feels rushed in the conclusion. Those first few
paragraphs were really fantastic, though.

Gyromania
March 18th 2013



14653 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

honestly, i don't think the main idea was tied in very well to the rest of the review. it's kind of non sequitur. the writing is good though

kingsoby1
Emeritus
March 18th 2013



4835 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i've done this type of intro before and wasn't really happy with it (DTS Vessel review). most people will just skip those first 2 paragraphs i think.

also, when i go on road trips i never plan out a playlist. just hit random on spotify based on what genre i feel like, or my review queue, or my compiled now listening lists. i prefer random i think

stopbanningchamberd
March 18th 2013



201 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nope review sucks hate this guy

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2013



9518 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6 | Sound Off

Yeah, you guys are right. Thanks a lot- I won't have a chance to make edits particularly soon, but I'll look over it once I get a chance and make some adjustments.

This album's become pretty personal for me, so it's hard to decide on which ideas to use and which ones to skip over.

Gyromania
March 18th 2013



14653 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

it's definitely difficult to approach it from an angle like this. i think we've all attempted it before. i'm actually running into the same problem with this wrens review i'm trying to write atm.

Tyrael
March 18th 2013



20442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Gyro really thinks he can get away with anything just because he has a Soul Eater avatar

hah!

you shall pay for insulting the love of my life :[



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