‘FUCK, SORRY… I TOOK A NAP, BUT IT’S PLAYING ON APPLE RADIO RN.’
- Frank, via Tumblr
FFS Frank, I can’t keep up with double releases. We learnt that with Beach House’s efforts last year. Two albums in such quick succession is too much material for my brain to process.
Sifting through all this material is tricky. And I think there’s a right way to go about it, like the order in which to watch all Star Wars films. Begin with the NIKES music video; this alone was worth a four-year wait. Then watch the visual album Endless, and I’d probably go for the short version, as the uncut edit is 140hours long. Followed by NIKES again. Because… There is a lot to take in with Frank’s new video. Then have a break, check out the 360-page Boys Don’t Cry magazine (but refrain from paying $1000 for it on eBay). And then start with Blond. Which begins with NIKES.
I love NIKES. A proud owner of twenty or so pairs of Nike trainers, I was immediately sold to the title of BLOND’S opening track. The video explores self-immolation, nudity and more quasi-religious imagery with a beautiful shot of a pregnant woman cut back to a dancing-devil scene. There’s a Chihuahua spitting bars in screwed fashion. And there’s shit loads of booty glitter, as pure unadulterated lyrics roll out.
‘RIP TRAYVON, THAT N*GGA LOOK JUST LIKE ME…
DEVIL BE POSSESSING HOMIES, DEMONS TRY TO BODY JUMP…
WEED CRUMBLES IN TO GLITTER.
LOOK AT ALL THE PEOPLE FEET DANCE…
I’LL LOOK AFTER YOU. MAKE LOVE TO YOU… MEAN SOMETHING TO YOU’
BLOND is a subdued listen, winding chords and melodies drift in and out subtly, often without drums or bass. The interludes include an uplifting monologue about self-belief, security and being yourself. And a Facebook Story about trust, jealousy, relationships and how social media can make us detached from reality.
The narrative is one of adolescence, of summer, meandering back to themes previously explored in his music; of love loss, addiction and sexual preference. Unlike previous work, the story is never really spelt out, even as the nine-minute album finale Futura Free ends abruptly. Blond is a story untold. Glimpses of youthful memories retrieved, and then lost in an instance. As each track often fades out or ends after just a minute or two.
Among the list of contributors to the album, a notable few include Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood smashing some guitar chords throughout. Kendrick Lamar provides writer/producer credits for Skyline To, and I’m pretty sure James Blake tapped a symbol in there somewhere. But the outstanding artist feature comes in the form of Andre 3000, who delivers a mind-blowingly intense verse at breakneck speed on Solo (Reprise).
‘So-Low that I can admit when I hear another kid is shot by the popo
It ain’t an event no more…
No more high horses, so hard to wear polo. When I do I cut the pony off, now there’s a hole that once was a logo – how fitting!
So-low that I can give a fuck about what is trending, tryna cut down on my spending – regardless of winning!
…So-low that when they throw pussy on pesos I pay no attention to it.’
Unlike The Life of Pablo, the extraordinary pieces of the Blond puzzle piece together in to something more than just an artist’s expression. Its parts make a complete piece of music for a large audience, nearing closer to perfection than any album I’ve listened to in a long time.
Highlights include Skyline To, Nights, and Godspeed. These tracks sound so lush and rich, compared to the lo-fi finish on Endless. Without fully diving in to the album credits, best guess is this is as a result of working with producer Tom Elmhirst, who mixed Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black and Adele’s 19, as well as Mike Dean and a host of experienced producers from incredibly different backgrounds. And it really is a diverse group of people involved in Blond. The list of contributors to the album seems Endless. It includes everyone from Yung Lean to Rick Rubin and provides a good enough reason to get excited for this album.
But just incase this wasn’t enough. Here are few more reasons why Blond will blow your mind: You’ve got weed, supercars, wordplay so complex I need to light up a fat one and take a big think about the world. You’ve got mythical and Shakespearean reference, interludes seemingly random at first, but that start to make sense only once the album draws to a close. You have themes that unravel delicately; bravery, sexual preference, freedom and change, the latter focusing in on growing up and taking responsibility.
‘I GOT TWO VERSIONS. I GOT TWWOOO VERSIONS.’
Frank has been busy in the last four years. But he has created a fully-immersive artistic experience. Art in various forms. Two albums in a weekend. Pop-up shops symbolizing creative space. The Boy’s Don’t Cry magazine delivering another piece to the puzzle in print. The live stream experience. And booty glitter! A lot of booty glitter.
Listen to Blond exclusively via the Apple Music platform below, purchase HERE.