Let’s be Frank about “Channel Orange” (trust me, that’s the least-lame pun I thought of for the teaser).
Def Jam, 2012
8.6 / 10.0
The most-discussed aspects of Frank Ocean and his first “official” solo album, channel ORANGE (if one doesn’t count Nostalgia, Ultra, which was “only” a mixtape), concern the revelation of his sexuality and the longest song on this album, “Pyramids”. I find the former amusing because Ocean being gay doesn’t affect how I view his music in the slightest—he uses gender-neutral nouns when discussing who he loves, making most of the hype surrounding his coming out look rather silly as one would not be able to tell his sexual preference strictly by listening to his music (and where was this hype for Put Your Back N 2 It by Perfume Genius?). As for the latter, “Pyramids” is a great five-minute long song that is about four minutes too long, and I think it is one of the weakest songs on this album.
So what we’re left with is an album in which Ocean finally fulfills his potential, creating the most concentrated R&B album since Voodoo and the first OFWGKTAOMGWTF album that can be described as mature. Ocean goes for understatement in both his vocals and instrumentals, resulting in an album with jazz overtones that can be easily digested but mined for meaning by those dead-set on looking for it. channel ORANGE will probably end up being the best R&B album of the year even if it doesn’t break as much ground as some folks have suggested.
Purchase: Frank Ocean – Channel Orange [Explicit]