As a ghostwriter for the dominators of mainstream R&B, Frank Ocean lost the reason he moved to Los Angeles. It wasn’t until he started working on his own music that things turned around. Case in point: Ocean’s debut album, Channel Orange, is a prime example of pop music done artfully. Layers upon layers of found sounds, funk guitar riffs, church organs, radio clips, and electronic beats fill each song in a cocoon of sound. Meanwhile, Ocean’s smooth voice rises above, creating syncopated harmonies that fuse it all together. His precise ear for how seemingly dissonant sounds work in tandem is matched by his tightly worded lyrics, which range from elaborate stories to catchy chants. For all of Channel Orange’s statement makers (“White,” “Bad Religion”) there are tracks that feed off their pulsing dance beats (“Sierra Leone,” “Pyramids”). Ocean has accomplished a unique feat in both modes, showcasing the best of both sides of the R&B world. Channel Orange is pensive and artistic and soaring with impeccable rhythm and blues.


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