Friday, July 27, 2012

nostalgia, ULTRA vs channel ORANGE



                                                                                                                                                     After nearly a month of listening to channel ORANGE, I have to say that nostalgia, ULTRA was much more listenable as a whole and was song for song more enjoyable. The songs on NU didn't exactly mesh instrumentally, but they all fit together, each song had something memorable to say and the tape as a whole had immediate replay value. But with CO, I didn't even want to listen to it again after my initial listen-through, there was no replay value. Once "Thinking Bout You" and "Fertilizer" fade out, the album itself fades away into a dreary obscurity until it resurfaces for a moment with Pyramids and Lost, then dips away again until it reaches its apex with the Andre 3000's verse on Pink Matter. Even the intricate rhyme patterns strung together by Earl Sweatshirt do little to liven the deadened and empty vibe present on most of channel ORANGE. Aside from a few bright spots, CO's lyrics did nothing for me.

As far as melody and instrumentation are concerned, CO features some stellar sounds, such as the bass line on Pink Matter or the effortless falsetto Frank employs on Thinking Bout You. Well crafted, CO is beautifully cohesive and each song flows into and compliments the next. CO hangs it hat on that, its cohesiveness. People will either hail it for how every song meshes seamlessly or deem it average for lacking distinct songs. It has the potential to grow on you if you give it the chance, but upon first listen, it won't give you any reason to give it that chance. Its predecessor, nostalgia, ULTRA, drew you in immediately with its quality single, "Novacane." As far as lyrics are concerned, NU is equally as depressing as CO on a few songs(JUST a few, which is an immediate contrast to CO), but on NU, those blue feelings are treated subtly and are dealt with more in a manner of self-reflection rather than self-pity. The emotional low points on NU are either set to uptempo beats or written in a reflective manner, mitigating the depressing effect that lyrics about heartbreak and suicide would normally have. Our deepest moments are the ones riddled with pain, but they can never and will never add depth to our selves until and unless we recognize that there is more to living and love than pain.

All things considered, channel ORANGE will probably be remembered as the more significant of the two albums, much in the same way most critics laud Voodoo as D'Angelo's best work, casting Brown Sugar aside with nary a second thought. But for me, nostalgia, ULTRA told me more about Frank as a person than channel ORANGE did. For all the talk of CO being a deeply personal album, and it is, NU, to me, is more expressive of who Frank is, whereas CO is more explanatory of a mood stemming from a very specific time in his life. NU flowed with a stream of consciousness style, it was lyrically erratic yet poignant, instrumentally and sonically diverse and featured enjoyable singing. CO on the other hand felt more calculated and lacked feeling for much of the album, yet the instrumentation and musicality was well done, well executed. But as far as his singing on this album goes, I only really enjoyed Frank's singing on Thinking Bout You. That isn't to say it was bad, just that it didn't jam the way his singing on NU did. So, all that said...

My verdict: nostalgia, ULTRA > channel ORANGE.
(this is subject to eventual change of course, lol. it's only been like 3 weeks >_>)

"May love ever possess you, may peace come into your life."


  1. I agree 100%. I was MOVED when I heard "Strawberry Swing" the first time. Nothing on CO is even close to being as good as that song. And Ocean had "Swim Good", "Novacane", "We All Try" (man that song is incredible) and "Songs For Women". They were uptempto but reflective, and I LOVE THAT STUFF. It's so hard to find. Channel Orange was just rambling to me. "Forrest Gump" is the only track I could take away from it.

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  3. I have no clue how every can ignore the creativity of channel orange. aesthetically that album was extremely organic and therefore way better. replay value? are you kiddin? nostalgia, THE true introduction to frank ocean yes, has maybe three standout songs tops. the D'Angelo comparison fit perfect bcuz Voodoo was received way more than Brown Sugar was for the same reason I'm sayin Channel Orange is...way more organic...reachin...sounds...subject matter...and to me...way more personal