Apparently, our prediction Boys Don’t Cry doesn’t exist, is only half right. There’s no more Boys Don’t Cry, but there is an album—two actually. Early this morning, Frank Ocean unveiled a 45-minute visual album, Endless, on his website via Apple Music, and is said to be releasing another record this weekend. Yeah, right.
At least with Endless, the world has finally gotten a tiny taste of what the mysterious Ocean has been working on (besides a book), since his 2012 breakout debut, Channel Orange. The visual album features contributions from photographer/musician Wolfgang Tillmans, Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenwood, frequent Ocean collaborator Om’mas Keith, singer James Blake, Jazmine Sullivan, Alex G and Ed Banger’s Sebastian, as well as the London Contemporary Orchestra, among others. In it, Ocean methodically builds a staircase as he debuts the tracks, one by one.
After such a long wait, filled with so much hype, I’m not even sure how I feel about the album—or if I even care. At first, Ocean’s extended absence from the music world and repeated delays built the anticipation into a fervor. But when yet another release date passed without an album earlier this month, the hunger turned into an all-out riot. Now that something has finally arrived—even if it’s not the album we’ve actually been waiting for—I’m kind of over it.
With 18 songs, including interludes, Endless is experimental—songs blend together, genre’s thrown away, different artists pop in and out. The video, shot in black-and-white, with very few contrasting shots, seems like Ocean’s attempt to make some sort of statement about waiting, and what you miss if you’re always looking for the next exciting thing. All I really took away from it was, why is Frank Ocean wearing a Jesus and Mary Chain sweater?
Musically, Ocean always shines in his use of melody, bringing together soulful falsetto with catchy R&B hooks—his voice soars with passion either way. Ocean continues with his trademark mix of hip-hop and electronica on Endless, also referencing his common themes of love and loss, with a particular leaning towards the morose. His emotional lyrics are only heightened by his powerful voice, making Ocean the ultimate R&B crooner. But the disorganization and scattered feel make Endless seem distracted—too many ideas for too small a space. The singer is obviously not lacking in creativity, but he definitely would’ve benefited from some focus—if only he redirected the concentration with which he handles that saw, to the album.
Only time will tell if the record formerly known as Boys Don’t Cry—a rep for Ocean confirmed to Rolling Stone that the title has been officially changed—will ever be more than a myth. If it is real, I’m betting it won’t be out this weekend.
In the meantime, you can watch/listen to Endless, here.