Frank Ocean 'Channel Orange'

Updated: 2 Nov 2012

Time Out says

Rating: 4.5/5

Frank Ocean is no stranger to controversy. In 2011, frustrated by a lack of support from record label Def Jam, Ocean leaked his ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ mixtape online to near-universal acclaim. After lending his voice to a pair of choruses on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘Watch the Throne’ album, little was heard of the Odd Future hip hop collective member in the months leading up to July this year, when he sensationally opened up about his sexuality in a letter posted on his Tumblr. However, the consequent backlash, including Target’s decision to not stock copies of his debut record in America, does little to take the gloss off the irrepressible ‘Channel Orange’.

Ocean’s ability to pull heartstrings with his repertoire of effortless vocals, heartfelt lyricism and unabashed social commentaries was apparent since ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’, but he takes it up a notch on ‘Channel Orange’, a lush R&B album drenched in themes of unrequited love, religion and class. In a record brimming with many highlights, infectious funk number ‘Lost’ and ‘Bad Religion’, detailing a painfully poignant conversation with an unlikely listener that is accompanied by the mournful weeping of a church organ, are perhaps the standouts. The extent of Ocean’s artistic dexterity though is best exemplifi ed on the ambitious ‘Pyramids’, a futuristic ten-minute track that transports Cleopatra from ancient Egypt to a dingy motel room.

Easy-listening yet emotionally resonating, timeless though current; the 24-year-old’s latest release has led him to be mentioned in the same breath as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Prince and Michael Jackson. Premature, yes, but ‘Channel Orange’ is nonetheless an immensely exciting effort from an audacious singer-songwriter who is making the headlines for all the right reasons this time around. Wong Boon Ken