Amongst the European air kisses and stacks of orange food – Orange Clubs, Orange Cheesy Puffs, Oranges and Orange Vitamin Water for the food-curious – sat twenty plus journalists awaiting the playback of Frank Ocean’s debut album Channel Orange...and they were not to be left disappointed.
Frank is a needle in the haystack that is the music industry. Not only did he plan to release Channel Orange without so much as a Chinese whisper, but he pens songs (Pyramids) which last a marathon ten minutes, complete with musical hurdles and multiple movements. Whilst shutting down the fanfare may have been a suitably cool idea for a man who strives to quantify cool with every note – and one that worked for his mixtape, Nostalgia, ULTRA – being signed to Def Jam means that the stakes are slightly higher this time around.
Tracks such as Sweet Life document how good life has got for the R&B soul star as the hook “Mango, peaches and lime, sweet life” rings in your ear long after its first play. It is an ambitious record which features Earl Sweatshirt (Super Rich Kids), John Mayer (White) and Andre 3000 (Pink Matter), in which Andre 3000 dabbles with the same flow he used on Drake's The Real Her. Ocean has certainly found his own signature sound though; his falsetto climbs to unreachable heights, whilst the sparse bass and throbbing drums resemble the hearts of young twenty something’s.
Tracks Bad Religion, Forest Gump and Pink Matter provoked a curious eyebrow raise or two as Ocean appeared reveal his bisexuality, quite clearly saying ‘him’ instead of ‘her’. Ocean exposed all in an open and very public letter posted on his Tumblr today, setting all the speculative eyebrows to rest as he officially clambered his way out of the closest. But, in the world we live in this barely seems worthy of a mention.
Words by Briony Gaffer (@brionygaffer)