Released a week early, before his debut TV performance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon – Channel Orange is one of most highly anticipated albums of this year. Arriving with more hype than anyone could have imagined, it does more than enough to sustain your expectations.

Chielfy, the lyricism on Channel Orange confirm that Ocean is an immensely talented writer. From his thoughts on the well-off youth during ‘Super Rich Kids’ to the luxurious on ‘Sweet Life’; the topic doesn’t have to be so obviously austere for you to appreciate his lyricism.

From the epic ten minute ‘Pyramids’ to the trippy ‘Crack Rock’, the record varies from subtle funk grooves to electro, with Ocean weaving stories of seedy clubs, suburban lifestyles and intimate truths. Ocean even provides a summer jam on the album’s most accessible pop song with ‘Sweet Life’, while he affords some warped beats on ‘Pilot Jones’.

Undoubtedly when Ocean decides to be poignant, his songs become especially impassioned. ‘Bad Religion’, the tune Ocean performed on Fallon is a prime example. He sings of his heartbreak on the song; “I could never make him love meI can’t tell you the truth of my disguise.” Even without the added context the song, the attached, emotive string section, combined with Ocean’s honesty, is incredibly powerful.

If you think things couldn’t get any better after the aforementioned song, ‘Pink Matter’ comes straight after to prove that Ocean has so much more to offer. His vocals here reach astonishingly beautiful levels, and Andre 3000’s rapping adds a nice touch too. Ocean’s contrasting, chilling falsetto and fascinating highs are so good that he is probably the most deserving singer of the modern era to earn the title, ‘crooner’.

Consistently indelible, Channel Orange is generally a more downbeat affair compared to his previous guest spots and his own Nostalgia_Ultra debut; but it’s no less an astounding feat. Ocean’s first full-length offering is truly something special.

Heck! This review should probably end with a proclamation that highlights its suitability for an end of year list… it’s that good.

– Corey Tonkin

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