I have spent the last few days in Frank Ocean’s world. I can’t remember the last time an album had such an impact on me; I have felt myself immersed in it. I have listened to it (of course), savouring the strange, witchy layers of sound, the abrupt changes, the loping melodies and the lyrics which float out at you and hit you in the face on second or third or fourth listen. And I have been reading about it too. I followed the internet debates – was it a scam? Was it too “white”? Was it too boring? I wondered, why isn’t it gayer? Then I found myself appreciating a man putting out a record both black and gay and yet beyond any of that, and still so truthful and tender. I love its abstraction, its lack of soundbites, its subtlety, its weird beauty. I love the video for “Nikes” with its glittery butts and pearl suits and artistic flair. Here are Frank’s thoughts on making the album, followed by the review from Pitchfork.
Frank says: “Two years ago I found an image of a kid with her hands covering her face. A seatbelt reached across her torso, riding up her neck and a mop of blonde hair stayed swept, for the moment, behind her ears. Her eyes seemed clear and calm but not blank, the road behind her seemed the same. I put myself in her seat then I played it all out in my head.”
“Raf Simons once told me it was cliché, my whole car obsession. Maybe it links to a deep subconscious straight boy fantasy. Consciously though, I don’t want straight — a little bent is good.”
“I found it romantic, sometimes, editing this project. The whole time I felt as though I was in the presence of a $16m McLaren F1 armed with a disposable camera. My memories are in these pages, places closeby and long ass-numbing flights away. Recording in Tokyo, NYC, Miami, LA, London, Paris. Stopping in Berlin to witness Berghain for myself. Trading jewels and soaking in parables with the many-headed Brandon aka BasedGod in conversation.”
“Boys do cry, but I don’t think I shed a tear for a good chunk of my teenage years. It’s surprisingly my favorite part of life so far. Surprising, to me, because the current phase is what I was asking the cosmos for when I was a kid. Maybe that part had its rough stretches too, but in my rearview mirror it’s getting small enough to convince myself it was all good. And really though… It’s still all good.”
And Pitchfork, in a 9 out of ten review, said that:
“The stories Frank tells here find solace in sorrow. They’re fucked up and lonely, but not indulgent. They offer views into unseen places and overlooked souls. They console. They bleed. And yes, they cry.”