Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE reviewJuly 10, 2012


By: Chad Stanton

Allow me to get my $.02 in before the hype machine reaches a fevered pitch. When this album dropped last night there were multiple exclamations of it reaching classic status while it was barely out of the digital plastic.

You can forgive any over-enthusiasm as people have taken to touting how great Frank Ocean is in order to prove they’re not homophobic. It’s a tad annoying, you didn’t know your friends were homophobic until Frank Ocean says something….riiiight, but it’s good all in all. As far as the album goes it’s pretty good. Especially for a debut album.

I’ll forgo a traditional track by track analysis because so many depend upon the context of the songs surrounding it. Frank Ocean doesn’t have the strongest singing voice in the world but we knew that, his songwriting and production is the star of the show when it comes to his performance. With a writing style that forgoes the R.Kelly school of singular focus in R&B, Frank Ocean sings about and compares love to a crack pipe and religion which serves to highlight the similarities between the three.

Sweet Life finds him saying forget bringing sand to the beach, but why are people leaving beaches when they have what’s perfect for them there. Of course the undercurrent to the whole exercise is that Frank Ocean recently wrote about being in love with a man and it seems to be written about pretty well in “Forrest Gump” which is written well and no listening to it didn’t turn me gay so, no big deal.

The production of the album is also a star here. channel ORANGE’s style is pretty dependent on continuity and signalling a break to move the listener along the experience. With a lot of ambient sounds in the back Ocean’s voice doesn’t overwhelm or get buried in the mix. I still like the “The Bravest Man In The Universe” better but this is pretty good in it’s own right.

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Highlights: Thinkin Bout You, Sweet Life, Super Rich Kids, Crack Rock, Pyramids, Monks, Bad Religion, Pink Matter, and Forrest Gump

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