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Album Review: Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

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In light of his moving Independence Day declaration, OFWGKTA resident crooner Frank Ocean yesterday released his debut LP a week early on iTunes. 

A lot has changed for Frank since the release of his mixtape nostalgia, Ultra last February. The 24-year-old has performed at Coachella music festival, been selected as runner up on the BBC Sound of 2012 list, featured on Jay-Z and Kanye’s collaborative effort Watch the Throne and most recently made his first television appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

On his Twitter account he pointed out that last summer he had 1600 followers, as of today he has over a million, which is incredible for an artist who has not received major airplay or had masses of promotion, showing the power of the viral internet.

Just a day after release the album is sitting pretty at the top of the iTunes chart. What about it has inspired so many people? 

Previously released track ‘Thinkin Bout You’, with additional instrumentation, starts the affair off. Whilst it easily is the most accessible and commercially viable off the album, it is only the tip of the iceberg in regards to Ocean’s storytelling abilities. However ‘Bad Religion’, a haunting, string accompanied piece that leaves a lump in your throat, highlights the best of his narrative skills. It also is the track that led to speculation over his sexuality as he sings 'I can never make him love me' about his unrequited love to a Muslim cab driver.  

Lead single ‘Pyramids’ still remains the stand out track even though a 10 minute single is unheard of, however, Frank has made it clear he will do things his own way which is happily welcomed as it works well.

The last half of the album is certainly stronger then the first as it is necessary to listen to tracks three to eight more than once to fully appreciate their musical subtly and differing subject matters. Sparing the guest appearances was a good move, allowing the few that are there to shine through, most notably Andre 3000’s on ‘Pink Matter.’

Channel Orange sets Frank Ocean miles ahead of his contemporaries as he refuses to play it safe. Pointing to legends such as Prince and Stevie Wonder blending funk and prog rock, Ocean has created something truly innovative. The singer has a natural knack for crafting tales full of emotion and complex lyricism. In the words of Odd future cohort Taco, Channel Orange is 'an instant classic.'

Channel Orange is also available to stream on Frank Ocean's tumblr.




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