This has been a long time coming.
After days upon months upon years of speculation, and a bizarre, ongoing black and white stream of woodworking via Apple Music, Frank Ocean finally released his latest project, a visual album—in the spirit of Beyonce’s Lemonade, released earlier this year—titled Endless, which would explain the nature of that continuous black and white video. While it’s hard to ever get tired of some of the most brilliant R+B of this century, new music from the artist is still not only welcome, but encouraged.
It’s Ocean’s first solo collection since 2012’s Channel Orange, a record that I, along with what seems like most other music fans on Earth, have long been pretty damn obsessed with. Though a report two weeks ago from the New York Times said that, after much delay, Ocean’s long-awaited second LP, Boys Don’t Cry, would be coming that Friday, it didn’t happen—two weeks have passed since. Finally, last night, the stream came back to life, and turned out to be what we didn’t realize we were all waiting for: a 45-minute long ‘visual album,’ released exclusively, as promised, on Apple Music. Hope isn’t dead for what we had expected to be Boys Don’t Cry either. While that title has reportedly been scratched—and this visual album may not be the album we were promised, though, it also could be—he’ll reportedly drop a second project later this weekend. After all, he did tell us that he had ‘twooo versions.’
Being the steadfast fan that I am of both Frank Ocean and music in general, it was difficult to not get caught up in the hype and anticipation of this record’s release. It’s a visual album, but it’s not epic in the way that Lemonade was; rather, it’s minimalistic. On a first listen through, it’s more of what we’ve come to expect from the brilliant recluse. The sound is as confounding as the visuals are, but it all seems to work. After all, given the narratives that we’ve heard through the years, doesn’t a confusing release concluding with a visual album just feel right?
It’s Frank at his best, and most confounding, and will almost certainly take a bit of thought to sift all the way through. The sound is silky smooth, relying as much as ever on the velvet nature of Ocean’s voice. While the album, as of now, simply exists in one, 45-minute chunk, our friends at Genius screengrabbed and compiled the album’s tracklist from the credits, which also reveal that Frank Ocean is credited as the director of this project.
tracklist for the folks without a microscope pic.twitter.com/qXwIEAFI8T
— Genius (@Genius) August 19, 2016
Will Endless differ much from the second album that is expected in the next couple of days? Will the two go hand-in-hand? A few years ago, Justin Timberlake came out with an R+B Double-Album epic of his own,The 20/20 Experience, and while the first half was fantastic, in its artistry and soul, the overall project sagged over the years due to the lackluster nature of its second half.
Running 45 minutes long, Ocean’s album has arrived solely in the form of a video—one that finds Frank hard at work building a staircase for its full duration. But our questions are as Endless as the project depicted on screen: Will the second album have a more traditional release, bringing with it a more traditional pop sound? Where is that staircase headed? Where will it take Frank? Like the whole process surrounding this release, we will have to wait to find out.
— Apple Music (@AppleMusic) August 19, 2016