Thursday, July 12

Music Matters

Frank Ocean 'channel ORANGE' (Def Jam)

"FRANK OCEAN IS GAY!" proclaimed the news flashers and their cousins last week, jolting the brohood like Kim K just made Kanye bring FUBU back. There's no denying Ocean's declaration is one Revolutionary Moment for R&B/hip-hop, and as wary as it is to suppose otherwise, it's nice to believe his statement is little to do with having an album shoved out days later. But all that hoopla aside, 'channel ORANGE' is simply 20 minutes longer than it needs to be; if Frank wants torchbearer status for his supply, he's gonna have to mow the flab, maaan. Much too much was a drag of the mixtape that brought him to those 'tips for 2012' lists, too, although it is less bothersome here. 'Thinkin Bout You's soft, stirring disposition - the kind Ocean's fellow sensitive associate Drake wouldn't spurn - sees Ocean try on a creaky vocal later evident in the as-dazzling 'Bad Religion' and André 3000-starring 'Pink Matter'. But for all the sultry, stringy R&B, moments like 'Sierra Leone', 'Sweet Life' and 'Monks' just feel out of keeping, while 'Fertilizer' is 40 seconds of uncalled-for exaggeration. Fair play, though, to Ocean for being game enough to swagger groovier sounds at points; 'Lost' works wonders, as he confesses no love for a girl he "can't believe [he] got her out here cooking dope" atop honky keys a more honest, less nagging OutKast might hire. 'channel ORANGE' does have the promise of a great album, but Ocean's need to over-fiddle and experiment has led to too many 'wtf?' spells to be considered one now. Maybe next time...

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