Odd Future is a pop band but Frank Ocean, posse member in excelsis, is not a pop singer, he is an r&b man. But his falsetto does not follow in the sainted footsteps of Luther Vandross. That ain't where he is at. Rather,Ocean is a great Black American eccentric following in the footsteps of Prince and D'Angelo on one side, Kanye and Kid Cudi on the other.
The result is not unevenness in his songwriting, but a revolving focus. Steve Crawford teenage daughter wrote in response to my asking if I should catch his concert "Frank's new album is so bad, but his best songs are worth going for". She has a point, if you want your pop jones, you ain't gonna get it here. If you want Odd Future's high spirits, neither Frank nor Tyler provide it when they go solo.
Tyler doesn't provide it because he has something darker on his mind: a teenage black youth nightmare that resonates with the while mall rats in suburban USA. Frank is a love obsessive on a bad trip -he had his heart broken and now you are going to pay for it. It is not that Frank is failing his songs, but that on only "Forrest Gump", "White", "Thinkin' About You", " and a couple of others is he not writing counter-melody after counter-melody. The man can sing, and he is as smart a beat master as you can get, but his melodies are counter-intuitive, and he keeps on pushing vocal change up so he flies past the melody and catches on the fly. Plainly: his tunes suck. He is pulling himself from the brink of commercial success because he is upset.
We thought we were getting some form of Babyface, a pro, I mean Frank sang with Jizza and Kweezy, but we weren't, we were getting eccentric beats and dark blue hues. Actually, he might well be hip hops Bethany Cosentino, another LA denizen. "So why see the world when you've got the beach?" might have been hijacked off her last album, and the jazzy song it comes from, "Sweet Life" is going up and down at the same time.It is saying the opposite of what it is sounding around half the time.
Like Bethany, and like Kid Cudi, Ocean is on a bummer and while it makes for intriguing, maybe brilliant music, it is neither fun nor memorable. Can stripclubs be as tedious and bizarre as they seem to be on endless "Pyramid"? Where are the thrills here, they are far between on this bummer. Ocean's songs are as ethereal as his self-outing.. How can somebody claim to have been in unrequited love with a man and still leave a question mark on his sexuality? Why so coy, chum? Are you in or are you out?
The album is like living on the beach, it is an endless wide sandy summer day and always the same, day in and day out: it is beautiful, striking but it isn't memorable. And I never remember it. I never seem to think, and I mean not once, oh I wanna hear that album again. -some of the songs, yes, absolutely, bit not the album. Listen to the Earl Sweatshirt featured "Super Rich Kids", I love this song, but it isn't fun. Why isn't it? It's funny, could be sexy, very Brett Easton Ellis, but the beat is dreary and you just wanna shake them. The sample sounds like it's off "Benny And The Jets" and it is still a snooze.
And there you have it.
Channel Orange is just too draggy, too difficult.. If you concentrate real hard you will find many vocal dynamics, perfect swerves and brakes of beats, they are there. But who wants to work so hard on a pop record? . Ocean needs to get us to buy in. Before he gives us the medicine, where is the sugar? It isn't worth the effort.
I like it, I love it, I just don't wanna listen to it.