Noir Fall 2016 - Page 11

REVIEWS Frank Ocean Blond Boys Don’t Cry 2016 Following more than a year of speculation, disappointment, and collective wishing, Frank Ocean rolled out two stunning expressions of — and explorations into — personal identity; his quietly brilliant visual album, Endless, shined light on the labor involved in being a desired artist by building something right in front of us. Blond, however, is not just simply the result of that labor; it is a subtle, genre-less gift of self, from Frank Ocean to his fans. Here, Frank is as honest on his wiry guitar ballads (“Ivy,” “Self Control”) as he is on the hip-hop cuts (“Nights,” “Futura Free”). Big-name contributors (Kendrick, Beyonce) and eclectic influences (Elliot Smith, The Beatles) can be discovered in the details, but Blond is all about the man behind the art. Beyoncé Lemonade Columbia Records 2016 It was inevitable that a statement as personal and articulate as Lemonade would be reduced to some tabloid fodder and a few Late Night jokes. But for those who were really listening — really watching — Lemonade is a triumphant and cinematic examination of infedility and self-love. Even for those who were only kind of listening, Lemonade is full of flawless production and stellar vocal performances. And to the population at large, its just another reminder that Beyoncé can turn pain into power, and right now she is at the top of her game. Solange A Seat at the Table Columbia Records 2016 On A Seat at the Table, Solange refines her artistic voice for one of 2016’s most cohesive and necessary album statements. Through introspection, Solange discovers and shares perspective and truth about being a black woman in the United States right now. Her voice — sonically, tonally, and narratively — sounds assured and developed; her backdrop is airy and gorgeous, at times evoking subdued funk textures. On her most wholesome project yet, Solange is proud, and it shows — Also, if you’ve been waiting for some fire sad Wayne bars, strangely enough, you’ll find those here, too. Images: djbooth.net, billboard.com, hypehair.com