1000 Albums Project


Blonde, by Frank Ocean
Suggested by Alfie Bennett

When the chipmunk started singing twenty-seven seconds into Track 1, I thought I’d hit my first Troll suggestion.

By the end of the album, I still wasn’t sure.

Not so much a collection of songs, more an aural landscape, at time this album feels absolutely beautiful. At other times, it feels as if Craig David has fired up a Casio keyboard then immediately had a stroke.

The music itself can feel incredibly sparse, almost uncomplete. Sometimes, that’s great. At others, it’s empty. There is little structure in each track, and they blend seamlessly into each other while dancing around in style and form. One minute you’re grooving to some standard RnB vocal twiddlings, next up there’s a spoken word piece akin to William Shatner on, well, LSD. Then you hit a section with super soulful keyboard, over which plays some random sounds.

There’s no comfort in this album. You can’t get used to anything. And the whole thing progresses at a glacial pace, like a gently rolling sea, a graceful hypnosis with brief interludes of lucidity. It saunters from one style to the next, a musical version of channel surfing, or walking down the street and catching snippets of the lives of passing strangers deep in conversation.

It’s definitely a difficult album, albeit one that’s trying to be accessible through familiarity of genre. It’s two-sided, in that you need to pay attention to enjoy the nuance but it’s equally valid to switch off and let it wash over you.

But is it any good? To be honest, I haven’t a clue.

Standout sections for me include Solo (Reprise), a forceful rap section that builds on an earlier track. My favourite section (I have trouble using ‘song’ as a descriptor) is White Ferrari, but I’d be hard pressed to articulate why. It’s just the nicest bit in a sea of bits, I suppose.

This album might actually be genius, if you’re willing to work with it. For me, it’s a welcome slice of oddity in a genre I generally find to be stale and twee.

Overall, I’m giving it a harsh 4/10, as I spent a great deal of my listen being vaguely irritated by the album’s random meanderings. I believe it’d be much more rewarding if you were ready to put in a little legwork, but I’m far too lazy for that.

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