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by Frank Ocean

Released August 20, 2016

Reviewed August 19, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Self Control (54%), Nights (54%), White Ferrari (43%)

Blonde is a musical treasure trove where the beauty never seems to end. No matter how many times you listen through, there is always some little detail to discover that adds another layer of love. Through an ambient pop world, Frank guides us through the ultimate story of growing up and truly becoming oneself. Soft instrumentals allow for a dissociation to unfold; one that allows Ocean to fully paint his whole world for the audience to soak up every last drop. His idiosyncratic style of writing is evocative while remaining easy to understand. A tightrope that’s perfectly walked across. – Jared (10/10)

A garden was grown in the time between Frank Ocean’s debut and Blonde, his sophomore release. Four years brought the crystallization of emotions that felt fleeting on Channel Orange; beautiful soundscapes had finally sprouted in 2016 where seeds were planted in 2012. But this garden’s extravagance comes from a minimalist approach, with flowers dispersed in a way that makes their petals so distinctly one-of-a-kind. Frank Ocean’s lyrics are as powerful as we knew they’d be because of that same sparseness. As more time separates the present from the release of Blonde, it becomes clear that the most precious people will grow in time. A garden this glorious could never be grown in a day. – Ben (Synth) (9.5/10)

Frank Ocean’s solemn facepalm from the Blonde cover art is my, and no doubt many others’, mobile lock screen—a minute testament to the album’s role in our modern-day comings of age. The anticipation for Ocean’s sophomore, four long years after channel ORANGE (2012) shook our screens, was at the very least unprecedented. Blonde ended up being his third record, his second that week, and his first on his label Boys Don’t Cry, independent from the skulking Def Jam. An hour of introspection against pristine keys, booming 808s, and subtle guitar licks, Ocean departs from the psychedelic neo-soul influences of his alternative R&B sound and subsumes into ethereal ambience. The album deals in halves, representing themes of his sexuality, pursuit of privacy post-fame, wanting wealth and critiquing materialism—though primarily the most former. Opener “Nikes” is characterised by pitched-up vocals and begins with his gloating younger self ruminating relationships and the state of the world; later, ascending soft strings open the gates for Ocean’s unfiltered, present self. At the halfway point, “Nights” divides the album precisely in two; and the closer, “Futura Freem” is similarly structured, with reflective piano chords soaring over an ever-evolving beat in the first half and a meditative end credits recessional in the second. Aging well over the last five years, Blonde is minimalistic without sacrificing sonic nor thematic detail, and documents a radical U-turn in Frank Ocean’s approach to R&B. – Cam (8.8/10)

DeVán: 10/10 | Dominick: 10/10 | Hadley: 10/10 | Jared: 10/10 | Pax: 10/10

Daniel: 9.7/10 | Ben (Synth): 9.5/10 | Victoria: 9.5/10 | Alan: 9.2/10 | Cam: 8.8/10


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