Early this morning Frank Ocean did what we’ve been waiting for him to do. He dropped an album. This album wasn’t expected, and it’s not one you can go purchase at the store. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. His newest effort entitled Endless is a visual album that is only available through Apple Music. Fans are ecstatic by the surprise, and we must admit that we are too.
This album isn’t like anything anyone ever seen before. You can’t compare it to Beyonce’s Lemonade because this visual is much more fixed. The 45-minute video is set in a warehouse where Ocean strategically builds a giant spiral staircase with blocks of wood going to the sky. A visual like this may cause more anxiety than calmness. All throughout the short film, the setting rarely changes but is accompanied by 18 new Ocean tracks, giving fans true satisfaction as they sit and watch the unique piece of art before them.
Of course, it feels easy to think this is too good to be true. After all, the last we heard from Ocean was in 2011 with his album Ultra. Since then, all we’ve been doing is standing back waiting for the artist to do something. And now, here we are. We sit, and we watch the visual, trying to figure what is at the end of the staircase. Maybe it’s a metaphor. We aren’t exactly sure but we do know that throughout the entire album, Ocean gives us a long commentary on waiting. It appears that it’s the theme built up in Endless.
Most of the tracks are distant echoes or sometimes they appear to be rough cuts or demos. Whatever the case, Ocean doesn’t dilly dally around by telling us that waiting is what we have to do and sometimes it’s better than getting to the good parts than we’ve dreamed about.
All throughout Endless, the songs seem to run together, and interestingly enough, it works. Every track is listed at the end but the listener will have a hard time picking out which one is which. The outro is what stands out the most and perhaps could be what Ocean has been trying to tell us this entire time. “In endless communication, we all show interest in everybody’s life. Your life can be streamed.” Maybe this is what we are doing. We are watching Ocean build a spiral staircase trying to figure out what will be at the end. Maybe we’re just watching because we’re interested. Maybe Ocean is telling us that all we seem to care about is endless communication, and that thing we are waiting for might never come. We wait and we wait some more. Sometimes it’s an endless period of waiting.
If you’re looking for a piece of artwork you can find in a store than maybe Endless isn’t for you. It’s confounding, beautiful, and strikingly interesting for the viewer. Maybe Ocean will come back full force with his rumored album Boys Don’t Cry. But until then, we will continue to be intrigued by Ocean and this interesting piece of artwork called Endless with a message that we all should be reminded of.
01 Device Control
02 At Your Best (You Are Love) (Isley Brothers cover)
06 Ambience 001: “In a Certain Way”
07 Commes Des Garcons
08 Ambience 002: “Honeybaby”
11 In Here Somewhere
12 Slide on Me
15 Deathwish (ASR)
17 Rushes To
Watch “Endless” by Frank Ocean on AppleMusic.