Music Feature

Album Review: Frank Ocean and the Smoothest Album of the Year

by Ryan O'Connell
The Odd Future member releases his first album, Channel Orange

Something totally unexpected happened last night.

No, the Home Run Derby wasn’t exciting and no, it has absolutely nothing to do with the Bachelorette.

Frank Ocean dropped his new album, Channel Orange, a week early. Take that Internet! Given how fast and loose news (true or not) flies around these days, this surprise release is damn close to a miracle. Perhaps we were all too busy taking sides in the TomKat divorce or trying to decode Dwight Howard trade rumors. Either way, Channel Orange is out and the line of critics and bloggers proclaiming it the best album of the year has already formed and is currently snaking its way down the block.

The best album of the year? That might be a stretch.

Smoothest album of the year? A definite possibility.

Channel Orange is Ocean’s first official album. The crooning member of the Odd Future collective had previously released a mix tape Nostalgia, Ultra and last year, appeared on two songs on Watch the Throne. Ocean ignited the buzz for Channel Orange a few weeks ago, when he released the epic and genre-colliding single “Pyramids.” His announcement last week regarding his sexuality only heightened the interest and anticipation surrounding Channel Orange and last night he made his television debut, playing the song “Bad Religion,” backed by the Roots and a string section on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

The album flows so seamlessly that ultimately it feels like less of an album of songs and more like one song with multiple movements. There are slow jams followed by more up tempo jams. There are guest spots (John Mayer, Andre 3000) and there are radio ready singles (“Lost” and “Monks.) Most importantly, there is Ocean- he of the sweet sounding voice and all-on-the-table, bleeding honesty lyrics. He is both confessional and professional in both his story telling and his soul bearing. There is a freedom in the sound and vibe to Channel Orange that is uniquely refreshing, as if the entire thing was constructed while floating or at least wearing incredibly comfortable shoes.

This will be the album of the summer- just wait. I’m not a gambling man, but if I was, I’d totally bet you seven dollars right now that in three weeks, you will know at least 5 people who own this record.

Seven dollars. Cash money.

Just wait.

You can check out Channel Orange on Ocean’s Tumblr page.

Ocean is playing a sold out show at Union Transfer in Philly on July 25th.

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