Frank Ocean’s “Blonde” turned one on Sunday. To celebrate, we reflected on our own trips around the sun spent with the album.
Boys Don’t Cry by Aaron Christianson
Time travel. When I first wrote about “Blonde”, almost exactly a year ago, I said that it had this special quality about it. It was one of those albums that I know I would be representative of a period of time in my life, and whenever I heard it, I’d instantaneously be transported back.
Now, almost a year later, I still feel like its sonic roots are digging deep into my synapses. Perhaps the perfect hour long list of tracks bears the resemblance of a season. A season of constant undress where we trade winter’s clothes for summer’s vulnerability. Or maybe it is a point in time where my life where uncertainty is unrivaled. In fact, over the past year, I feel like one of the most consistent points in my life has been music like “Blonde”.
I am still feeling old feelings, and creating new feelings, and reliving the past while bounding at breakneck speeds to eternity. Frank is right there with me. “Blonde” is right there with me. What a wonderful feeling it is to be isolated from the world without the unbearable weight of loneliness.
I guess this is more of a thank you note than an album reflection.
Golden Hours by Holly Wilson
August is the golden hour of the year, a beginning and ending. Feelings of growth and exultation during the days transform into feelings of nostalgia and closure at night. Almost too poignantly, Frank Ocean released “Blonde” on August 20, 2016—an album of golden hour-esque moments birthed in the golden hour month.
My relationship with “Blonde” has changed in the time between the two Augusts. With an ever-growing number of listens, I’ve found intricacies. The way my throat will catch on certain lyrics, how my eyes can go from dry to misty if the songs shuffle in the right order (“Ivy” into “Self Control” into “Godspeed” will really do it, folks). It exudes emotion with such intensity that it can change my entire day, the mundane becoming divine.
My own golden-hour memories live in “Blonde”. Whether good or bad, they shine brighter than the rest, the hour-long album reflecting them back to me with a kaleidoscopic effect. They come and go, replay endlessly, and build new patterns. These 17 songs act as my memories’ omnipresent narrator, there for every beginning, middle, and end.
It’s an album meant to soundtrack the highlights and the lowlights—listening to “Nights” with my best friends before a party last September, idealizing the new season, or letting “Self Control” blast through my headphones to drown out the bars below my apartment after a night turned sour in July. They’re immortalized because of “Blonde.” Frank gave introspection and retrospection; always hitting us the hardest when they’re the last things we wanted.
It really was “a pretty fucking fast year flew by.”