Album Review: Frank Ocean - Channel Orange (2012 LP)

For years the R&B scene has been in disarray, there are only a handful of artists still making actual rhythm and blues while the majority are leaning towards cheesy house influences.

Along comes Odd Future’s signature crooner, Frank Ocean, and pretty much wins over every young music fan worldwide, whether they be “totally mainstream” or “strictly hipster” it seems like everywhere you turn R&B has won more than a wagon-full of new fans due to the 24 year old singer and his excellent mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra.

With his undeniably hip image, Frank Ocean has chosen the perfect moment to release his debut LP Channel Orange and even just one listen is enough to understand why the praise is pouring in.

We are introduced to Channel Orange via the sound of a Sony Playstation starting up and a quick segue into one of the albums finest moments, ‘Thinkin’ ‘Bout You.’ The lead single is as smooth as R&B jams come and has Ocean displaying a flawless falsetto that would make greats like Maxwell or even Prince proud.

The stories throughout the album are the type you actually want to pay attention to, and Ocean paints vivid pictures like a true artist. Whether it’s the enviable paradise Frank imagines on ‘Sweet Life,’ or the excessive party scene of ‘Super Rich Kids,’ Channel Orange is packed with excitement.

A penchant for hypnotic beats results in songs like ‘Pilot Jones’ and the poignant ‘Crack Rock,’ while Frank’s rare ability to melt genres into each other so perfectly leads to epic songs like the brilliant ‘Pyramids,’ an ambitious number which is destined for fan-favourite status. ‘Pyramids’ could have easily been overwhelmed by superfluity but Ocean fills it with so much class that it’s near impossible to resist the many layers on display.

On short interlude ‘White’ John Mayer shows up with his guitar to harmonise with some 808 drums and the result could not have worked better. A gorgeous melody lulls you into a relaxed state of mind before the funky ‘Monks’ brings the attention back to Ocean’s slick vocals.

The end of the album is overflowing with emotion and has Ocean showing off his impressive range with the depressing ‘Bad Religion’ and the Andre 3000-assisted, minimalist masterpiece ‘Pink Matter.’ The mood picks up a bit with the playful and flirtatious ‘Forest Gump’ and by the time the album rounds out with ‘End’ you’re left with the instant desire to start the album all over again.

One of those LP's you can listen to from start to finish without ever getting bored or frustrated, Channel Orange will go down as one of the best R&B releases of this decade, if not the best. Many of these songs will be cherished anthems for years to come; Frank Ocean’s artistry is now set firmly in stone.

Review Score: 9.4 out of 10