Ocean makes waves

By Nicholas Everest, Editor

Four years after the release of his debut album “Channel Orange,” Frank Ocean returns a changed man. The raw lyrics and rich emotions on “Blonde” give the feel that he wrote this piece more for himself than anyone else.

Listeners looking for “Channel Orange 2” are going to be disappointed when they hear “Blonde” for the first time. Ocean’s return sounds exactly like what you’d expect from a man who disappeared for four years — sad, lonely, and looking for answers.

The opening track “Nikes” glances back on the death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager who was killed by a community watch volunteer in 2012. Ocean’s tone, however, doesn’t sound like a call to arms, but more of a self reflection on his own life.

This theme is prominent throughout parts of the project as Ocean seems to be having confidence issues. “Left when I forgot to speak,” he sings, reflecting on his past inabilities to express his true feelings.

Introspective lyrics show Ocean doubting himself at every turn. “Although you got buku family. You don’t even got nobody being honest with you,” he says on “Nights,” one of the standout songs on the album.

While his sudden self doubt seems out of the blue, it is quite warranted. “Channel Orange” is widely considered one of the best albums of the decade, leaving Ocean at the risk of joining the one-and-done club.

Luckily for Ocean, the years of hard work have paid off. Every listen of “Blonde” just gets better and better. The minimalist beats work perfectly for the feeling of reflective musing he builds up within the album.

“Ivy” flows like a sad reflection on happy times. “I could hate you now. It’s quite alright to hate me now,” he sings about his failed relationship. His tone, understanding of why it ended, but happy it happened.

An album like “Blonde” must be listened to without any past notions of who Ocean is as an artist. Expecting him to be the same is exactly what he tries to fight with this project.

An interview with Ocean’s brother Ryan serves as the finale for the album on the track “Futura Free.” “I wish I could sleep without being dead but sleep forever at the same time,” Ryan Ocean said.

“Blonde” can’t be described any better.