Review Roundup: Frank Ocean - 'Blonde'

  /  08.23.2016

The reviews are in for Frank Ocean’s Blonde. Just days after the highly-anticipated album hit the scene, writers, publications, fellow artists, and fans have rushed to review the long-awaited release, which followed his visual album Endless.

Blonde is expected to soar to the top of the Billboard 200. Industry forecasters revealed that Ocean’s latest is on pace to sell 225,000 equivalent album units in its first week, making it Frank’s first No. 1.

But is the critical reception as good as the commercial fanfare? Find out by reading a roundup of Blonde reviews below.

Rolling Stone: On Blonde, dizziness is a common sensation. The album is by turns oblique, smolderingly direct, forlorn, funny, dissonant and gorgeous: a vertiginous marvel of digital-age psychedelic pop. 4/5

EW: So is the hype deserved? Definitely. With these 17 tracks, Ocean shows himself to be one of pop’s foremost innovators. A

Los Angeles Times: It suggests that Ocean is getting at the contradictions of an era in which guilt and innocence keep blurring, when even the hardest-seeming evidence can lead to an incomprehensible outcome. He wants you to listen, then to wonder if that’s enough to understand.

The Telegraph: For an album that arrived in a wave of hype and anticipation, Frank Ocean’s Blonde is a complex yet weirdly undemonstrative affair. Meandering, contemplative and introverted, it is not obviously packed with the kind of shiny hooks and banging beats associated with blockbuster pop. 4/5

The Guardian: Among all the immediate autobiographical and introspective themes of weed, cars, women, men, consumerism, growing up and responsibility, are all kinds of complex wordplay, and references to Shakespeare and Teutonic myth, but as with everything these are subtly done. They don’t clang into the songs as signals of bourgeois erudition, but slide in, signposting more and deeper themes which will only become apparent as we live with the album. And yes, it’s true: this is going to be an album worth living with. 4/5

The New York Times: Mr. Ocean’s previous projects — the 2011 mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra and the 2012 album channel ORANGE — were products of an intuitive songwriter and a singer just getting comfortable with the outer boundaries of his power. Blonde and Endless show someone willing to forsake that progress in service of perfecting a mood.

Chicago Tribune: Like the builder he plays in Endless, the Ocean of Blonde is engaged in an act of love. The penultimate track, “Godspeed,” plays like a goodbye to boyhood and an affirmation of what will endure. Ocean sings like he’s in church, and his tone is open, a quiver of emotion audible. An organ plays, and it’s as if he’s envisioning the Last Supper: “The table is prepared for you.” It turns out that while his fans were busy waiting, Frank Ocean was preparing a feast.

Vulture: This walk is an integral part of Frank Ocean’s work, from the “love is love” sentiment of Nostalgia‘s “We All Try” to channel ORANGE‘s lost boyfriend yarn “Forrest Gump,” but Blonde feels like a weightier rumination on identity and sexual orientation. … Blonde surveys the messy scene outside of channel ORANGE‘s busted closet door, where coming out is a battle, but the real war is finding love across the many taxonomies of jerk populating the bars and dating apps.

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