Album review: Blond(e)/ENDLESS

Album review: Blond(e)/ENDLESS

Frank Ocean, as you might have known if you’re following any news outlets, or just following me, released two new albums last weekend. Yes, TWO.

Frank’s journey, from releasing nostalgia, ULTRA, his pretty good mixtape, to releasing his debut masterpiece channel ORANGE allowed him to build himself a relatively big following. And ever since, the crowd has been longing for more music from the reclusive genius. After a two-year hide & seek game and hinting at having a finished album and a magazine both titled Boys Don’t Cry. Last week, Frank finally released his album, but to the surprise of everyone, it was a visual album called ENDLESS and not the long promised Boys Don’t Cry. Immediately after the release of the album, news broke that Boys Don’t Cry will follow on the same weekend, but with a different title, Blond(e).

ENDLESS is a something unexpected from Frank, it is an experimental effort and contains tracks that were possibly left out from Blond. And although the album isn’t perfect, it has many great tracks. The Isley Brothers’ cover “At Your Best (You Are Love)”, alongside “Rushes” are the highlights of the album. Both showing the emotional depth of Frank’s vocals and how he can really convey his emotions through music.

On the other hand, we have Blond, which is nothing like channel ORANGE, but that’s not a negative comment. It’s very different from his previous releases, both sonically and lyrically.

The album’s opening track, “NIKES”, is a beautiful mess with a great accompanying music video. It continuously keeps hinting at Frank’s two versions. Two versions of what? It might be the two virgin girls in the video, the two Virgin Mary statues in the video, or, most likely, two versions of him, with it possibly being a comment on his bisexuality. This can also be seen with the album’s title, with blond being the masculine adjective and blonde being the feminine adjective, showing Frank’s two sides. The track is remarkable, and is definitely a good choice for the leading single, but it definitely would have been a much better track without the overly used high/low pitched voices.

Then we have “Ivy”, one of the album’s highlights, where we have Frank singing with an innocent and smooth tone about looking back at a failed relationship and how the relationship was destined to fail.

In “Solo”, Frank sings about being solo, and feeling “so low” emotionally. The track is preceded by “Be Yourself” which is a recorded call from a mother telling her son to be careful and not use alcohol or drugs, possibly showing us how much he appreciates and loves his mother. And let’s not forget “Solo (Reprise)”, the track with the only major vocals on the album by someone other than Frank. We hear André 3000 deliver an explosive verse where he reflects on his past years while also making aggressive comments on one of rap’s major issues, ghostwriters.

The rest of the tracks are just as good, we have the ethereal “Pink + White” with minor vocals by Queen Bey herself. The fantastic “Nights”, where Frank abruptly changes the tone in the middle of the track, marking the end of the first half of the album. Then we have the confident “Self Control” featuring vocals by Slow Hollows’ Austin Feinstein, the heart-breaking “Seigfried”, and the melancholic “White Ferrari”.

The albums will please fans and new listeners alike. Some songs will be appreciated immediately, while others will require a few more listens. Frank has definitely matured in the past four years, and this is a proof of that. They mark a new chapter in his life and I truly can’t wait for the next one, whether it’s out this year, or after five years.

Go buy Blonde and ENDLESS.

Final verdict: Essential


Episode review – Girls, “The Panic In Central Park”

 This episode felt like a reboot for Marnie. A way to make her likable again, or at least less-hated. And the re-introduction of a person from the past to do that was brilliant. 

Having the surprising, yet welcome, return of Christopher “Charlie” Abbott, was one of the highlights of the episode, and I really loved the way it happened, where Marnie was just walking and listening to music and she meets him out of nowhere. 

We saw how much he has changed since the break-up, he’s gained weight, got a new accent, grew a beard, and got himself a new job as a drug dealer (and quite possibly an abuser).

It was nice seeing how the two would react after not seeing each other for a long time. We got to see a glimpse of what could’ve been had they stayed together. And despite everything, we still got to see the same old narcissistic Marnie at the shop. 

Desi’s confrontation at the end of the episode was hilarious, mainly due to his prediction of Marnie getting murdered in the future. And the final shot with Hannah was adorable, showing us that no matter what, these two girls have each other’s back in the end. What a beautiful episode, this season has been excellent so far.

And let’s not forget the beauty of this scene where Marnie and Charlie fall from the boat.

Review – Fortitude (Season 1)

Review – Fortitude (Season 1)

Fortitude is a crime thriller, sci-fi drama, and it is a surprisingly good show despite the weird mixture of genres.

The show follows the lives of the residents of the fictional Arctic town of Fortitude, after a shocking crime takes place, and how the residents are dealing with the event. Believe me when I tell you that this is no ordinary crime thriller.

The show is beautiful, whether its the haunting theme song, the dark and atmospheric setting, or the mystical cinematography. You’ll surely be captivated by Fortitude.

The show features an impressive ensemble cast: Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, Sofie Gråbøl (The Killing), Christopher Eccleston (The Leftovers), and Richard Dormer (Game of Thrones) among others.

The show is full of shocking twists, mainly due to the sci-fi fueled plot, and that’s one of the many reasons why I believe it’s one of the best shows of the year so far.

Fortitude is a show that defies the regular plot lines that we see in regular crime thrillers. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers and science fiction, you’ll definitely love Fortitude. It’s a show that can’t be missed.

Best Episodes: Episode 8/Episode 10

Final verdict: Amazing

Review – The Americans (Season 3)

Review – The Americans (Season 3)

The Americans returned this year for a new season filled with espionage action, family issues, thrilling missions, awesome songs, and most importantly, new wigs.

The show picks up after last season’s big revelation (Paige’s recruitment plans). Things are tense between Phillip and Elizabeth this season, their constant debate about Paige’s inevitable recruitment, with Philip being against the recruitment, while Elizabeth thinking that they should do it for their country.

Martha was a big player this season, her storyline was just sad, with her realizing that her love life is a complete lie, and how that affects both her personal and professional lives.

The same thing goes to Paige, and her shocking confrontation with her parents, and her struggle to come to terms with the fact that her parents are spies. Not to mention the season’s finale, where Paige has compromised her parents identities to someone (presumably Pastor Tim) on the phone, leaving us with a cliffhanger, as usual with the final episode of each season of this brilliant show.

Matthew Rhys and Kerri Russell were both wonderful. But the actors who gave extraordinary performances this season are Aliso Wright (Martha) and Holly Taylor (Paige).

And who can forget one of the season’s funniest moments: Henry’s (Keidrich Sellati) hilarious Eddie Murphy impression.

The Americans proved that it still is one of the best shows on air. A perfect show with a team of smart writers and talented actors. Sadly, it was one of the many great shows that were snubbed by the Emmys this year. Now all we can do is just wait patiently for the next season.

Best Episodes: Walter Taffet / Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep? / Stingers

Final verdict: Essential