It’s incredible how little I have written about Frank Ocean considering how many times I have played his music over the last four years, and how deeply it has touched me. Following the release of his second album, Blonde, in August, it’s high time I remedied this fact with a piece in praise of this singular artist. Continue reading
The curse of the difficult-second-album hangs over Frank Ocean’s Blonde like an unforgiving spectre. As if following up his critically acclaimed debut, Channel Orange, wasn’t hard enough already: there was the endless rumours, the delays and the never-ending storm of desire and derision on social media. No wonder Ocean prefers to keep himself to himself these days.
For better and worse, Ocean’s second album is the product of personal struggle under the weight of intense expectation. It doesn’t reach the dizzying perfection of his 2012 debut, but it is a profound listen nonetheless. Continue reading
It is said that the tough times are the true measure of a person’s character. By that definition, Solange is empress, artist and saviour all in one. Eight years after this maverick R&B singer’s second album, and four years since her cathartic portrait of a break-up (True EP), she has gifted us with a bold, vibrant album about freedom and the worth of her people. Continue reading
Anderson Paak’s Malibu is incredible. This multi-disciplined singer, rapper, songwriter and producer has been living a breakout year, appearing on tracks by Schoolboy Q, Kaytranada, Snakehips and Mac Miller to name but a few. Malibu, with its flavoursome grooves and relatable hooks, is the type of album you’ll want to listen to from end-to-end, and shout about to all your friends. Continue reading
Nao’s For All We Know is a delight and, initially, a struggle. The struggle comes from everything around it: the hype, the hit-and-miss descriptors and the unwieldy presumption that singer Nao – real name Neo Joshua – may as well be a FKA Twigs double. The delight comes from pushing past that to hear her gorgeous vocals and the weird musical formation that back her on this nostalgic future. Continue reading
Dawn Richard is wildly underrated. This US singer from New Orleans started out as a member of Diddy-Dirty Money, before striking out with her own releases on her own label. Continue reading