Frank Ocean's 'Channel Orange': What the Critics are Saying

 

Frank Ocean fans were pleased to hear that the singer’s debut album Channel Orange was digitally released Tuesday, a week prior to its original release date.  After the massive success of Ocean’s mix tape, Nostalgia, Ultra, this first studio album from the R&B singer has been highly anticipated.

Ocean recently opened up about his sexuality in a note posted to his Tumblr, confessing that he had been passionately in love with a man at 19 years old. Moving the release date of Channel Orange might have been strategically genius on Ocean’s part, as his confession generated buzz throughout the media. Last week, Ocean's summer tour completely sold out.

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Below, read a sampling of reviews from Ocean's debut album.

Jason Lipshitz of Billboard says, “Channel Orange presents a complex view of American life from the mind of superbly talented writer and vocalist…. There are celebratory moments, but there is a lot of confusion from a young man forging an unfamiliar path.” Lipshutz also adds, “But no matter what Ocean's mood is on the album, the songs sound fantastic. The production never smothers the singer's sumptuous vocals, which spill over into pockets of air that the listener didn't know could be filled. Channel Orange does not contain any bad songs…”

Channel Orange has been long awaited since ocean released two different mix tapes in 2011. Immediately after the success of Nostalgia, Ultra, a sixty-three-track compilation of previously unreleased and unfinished songs had surfaced. The Lonny Breaux Collection was only a prelude to what is now over a year later, Channel Orange.  

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Kia Makarechi of The Huffington Post notices Ocean’s growth since the two mix tapes. She also recognizes his stand-out ability amount current musicians of his caliber, “In an age when nearly every R&B singer is turning to thin, horribly unsubtle dance music, it's refreshing to see a young artist stay true to his vision and, indeed, his calling. There's a current of self-awareness in the lyrics that is mirrored in these aural interruptions,making the whole package all the more cohesive and believable. As a result, the album rings with maturity -- even on tracks where Ocean considers his own insecurities.”

Ocean has written songs for a number of artists including Beyonce, Justin Bieber and John Legend. Channel Orange is the first thoroughly written and produced album of his own, by which he get’s extremely personal. Channel Orange easily separates Ocean from current mainstream artists of his genre.

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The New York Times says, "[Ocean] is an extremely unflashy songwriter, avoiding big proclamations and broad brush strokes, instead leaning on conversational gambits and the power of detail. ... He makes warm, cloudy soul with echoes of Stevie Wonder, Prince and Pharrell Williams that's almost never about seduction."

Entertainment Weekly graded the album a B+ saying, "If Southern California needs an avant-R&B soundtrack, let this be it."

Ocean performed “Bad Religion” for his TV debut as a solo artist on Monday’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Hard Copies of Channel Orange will be released in stores next week, and Ocean is set to play a sold out show at the Wiltern in Los Angeles on July 17th.

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