He took a nap. People were already anaemic recovering from ‘Endless’ and Frank Oceantook a nap as his excruciatingly anticipated new album debuted online. This is Joanne The Scammer levels of unbothered. We’d been waiting to exhale for the longest, but ‘Blonde’ is finally here. Though it may actually be called ‘Blond’. What’s titular consistency to a non-believer?
Differing quite vastly from the experimental soundscape of the visual album ‘Endless’, ‘Blonde’ is all lyrical beauty and guitar melodies. Seventeen tracks, created in collaboration with a list of people so grandiose it’s frankly just tew much: Arca, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, André 3000, Jazmine Sullivan, Rick Rubin, Brian Eno, Kendrick Lamar, James Blake, Rostam Batmanglii, Yung Lean, Kim Burrell, Jamie XX, Tyler The Creator, Gang of Four and do I really need to continue because honestly this doesn’t even sound real. Frank!
Good luck getting your hands on the album’s accompanying 360-page ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ magazine, which was available for free at pop-up locations in L.A., New York, Chicago and London. The magazine consists of Kanye seemingly coming to grips with his distrust of food (“The cheeseburger and the shakes formed a band, to overthrow the French fries plan, I always knew them French fries was evil man, smelling all good and shit, I don’t trust no food that smells that good man, I don’t trust it, I just can’t”), a heart-punch of a poem Frank wrote named ‘Boyfriend’ (“I could say that I’m happy, they let me and my boyfriend become married, I could say that I’m happy but cross my heart I didn’t notice”), horoscopes and editorials pieces including an interview with his mother, Katonya Breaux. Also, the magazine intro features the following anecdote: “Raf Simons once told me it was cliché, my whole car obsession. Maybe it links to a deep unconscious straight boy fantasy.” You know what, if Raf Simons personally shaded me thus, it would probably end up being the title of my memoir. There’s just so much to take in here, you’d almost forget to put on the album. (You thought!
‘Nikes’ is the opening track, and its captivating Tyrone Lebon-directed video dropped right before the album did. It’s an immediate standout, from the insane baby hair reference (“Me and them gel, like Twigs with them bangs”) to how you’ll have a hard time walking past your local Footlocker the next few days without someone Chipmunk-screeching ‘these bitches want Nikeeees’ from somewhere in the back of the store. The unexpected Trayvon Martin line is what did me in, though. Frank has to stop doing this
‘Ivy’ and ‘Pink + White’ are dreams narrated by guitar. Beyoncé sings backing vocals on the latter and just imagine how much artistic restraint it must have taken Frank to relinquish her to background flourishes and not to be like: “Okay girl, you can just sing the rest too, this is your album now, I’ll get the next one.” That would’ve been me, one googolplex percent.
Frank’s friend's mother reading drugs for blood on ‘Be Yourself’ had me repeating “sluggish, lazy, stupid and unconcerned” in the shower over and over again, feeling cleansed like I was on Oprah’s Lifeclass. A personal favourite, ‘Solo’, has Frank soaring from a beautiful chord to one you wouldn’t immediately see coming next, creating sweet dissonance (my parents were so right usurping half of my tender youth by sending me to musical theory classes) which is what has always made him different. ‘Solo (Reprise)’ is another André 3000 scorcher, perhaps an even greater one than ‘Pink Matter’, and I’ll never recover from the line “So-lo that I can see under the skirt of an ant”. ‘Facebook Story’, featuring the words of Ed Banger producer SebastiAn, gives you “I’m not confeedent weet dees seetuation” Elisa Johnson forlorn French boyfriend musings.
‘Godspeed’ is where my chills truly came in. If Kim Burrell didn’t already procure my premature interment on ‘Ultralight Beam’, she definitely finished the job singing background on this one. It’s supposed to be a reimagination of Frank’s boyhood, and though it has all the elements to be heartwrenchingly sad, it’s uplifting and hopeful. ‘Blonde’ was not created from the same space ‘Channel Orange’ was, even when it deals with similar subject matters sometimes. You can’t really compare the two. But just like ‘Endless’, I know it’ll take a lot more listens to get through to the core of it. Mostly, that’s not something you look forward to but whelp, here we are. Frank had us thirsty. And finally, we’ve been quenched.
But what are we going to frantically meme about now?
You can get ‘Blonde’ by clicking here.