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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

9.5

Frank Ocean
Channel Orange

While listening to Channel Orange, it's hard not to consider how it'll be perceived in the future. Not in the jet age of tomorrow, but even in just five, ten, twenty years. A billion blog years. When people have no idea who Earl Sweater is, or why Ocean felt obliged to have him rapping over a rejected Billy Joel beat. When the masses will have inevitably forgotten all about Frank revealing his sexual preference in the lead up to the release of his first (proper) album or that there was even a time when tromboning your fellow species was deemed a controversial issue. Grainy footage of Ocean's heart-stopping performance of Bad Religion on The Jimmy Fallon Show will be shown to people for the first time and it'll only solidify their lust. And Andre 3000's Wikipedia page will still have the solitary sentence "maybe next summer" under the Debut Solo Album section.

This element of timelessness is the basis of the record's success. Whilst his fellow Odd Future crew members are undeniably trapped deep inside an endless zeitgest.tumblr.com loop of hype vs shock vs relevance, Ocean stands apart. Separated not only by his selected methodology — focusing his attention primarily on the path of 1960-to-forever soulful pop music rather than kick-flipping over corpse rape victims — but also by the fact Frank generally depicts himself as a loner. Pouring out emotional quips, in-depth tales of unloved crack whores and the unforgiven repercussions of unrequited loved. These aren't subjects where you bring-ya-whole-crew along for the ride. These are matters tackled in solitude. The act of frequently analysing his own thoughts, feelings and shortcomings — from both internal and third-person perspectives — is an approach which strengthens the relatable human quality of his music and perfectly suits Ocean's delivery. Generally, this is a drifting nature, a swaying top-of-the-dome pop flow that compliments his frequent focus flips, gliding through subject matter varying from therapeutic love confessions to detailing fictional imagery of monk's enjoying the pleasantries of moshpit therapy.

But this album isn't entirely built on this introspective analysis and the focus on variance — in relation to both tone and subject matter — is also an incredibly important contributing factor to it's overall success. Showcasing his creative flexibility, Frankie sounds equally comfortable on both ends of the spectrum, whether it be tearing up confessional love notes on Thinkin Bout You, or downing eighteen kilos of horse tranquilizers and raving for women's rites on Pyramids. And while the high-end production qualities and solid pop foundation are the functioning aspects which make this album instantly appealing, once these wear off it's left to the artist's own unescapable charm, charismatic appeal and emotive "realness" to carry the weight. A burden Frank carries as easily as when he piggybacks Sir John Mayer every year at the annual Chappelle Block After-Party, amidst the haze of a couple-too-many wine coolers. Speaking of which, Johnny "Cooler Than Frozen Dildos" Mayer features on one of the many little interludes scattered across this album, wailing on the guitar like the Future Hendrix he is, and connecting the dots between a song about hit television program Lost and one detailing Frank's obsession with the hit television program about the aspergers guy who solves crimes using his social shortcomings.

Even with such a focus on 2012 television programming successes, this album will undoubtably long outlive the attention-disabled generation we're all card-carrying trolls of. Long after Twitter explodes when someone hashtags the word hashtag. Long after someone writes a clever piece of code that Tumblr's the entire Internet and then uploads the relevant nude selfies to a public file sharing graveyard and/or your high school Facebook page. Long after the debate on the correct hexadecimal value of the album's "orange" is resolved. This album will still be deeply adored and frequently played. Guaranteed.

Filed Under
Record Reviews
Frank Ocean
Odd Future

 

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