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The song even features a sample of Wonder’s version, looped for a futuristic feel. Ocean does a nice job of following the melody line and intertwining both old and modern sounds. The track sits nicely on the tracklisting as an interlude.
The holy trinity of voices and production, Frank Ocean teaming up with James Blake and Bon Iver, come together for this track. The Blake and Bon Iver influence isn’t immediate, despite starting very airy and spacious. It is only around the midway mark when their prominence comes to the fore, with an acoustic guitar displacing the synth, and what appears to be Justin Vernon harmonising with Ocean (though this could be self-harmonisation). The samples are very Blakeesque, intermittent coming in and out. The song ends beautifully on a sort of lullaby lament.
In what at this point appears to be symptomatic of the album, this track is rather downbeat and ironically morose (“less morose and more present”/”dwell on my gifts for a second, a moment”), but nonetheless extremely captivating and moving with swooning strings and melody line change-ups.
Those of you with the acute ear and fans of James Blake latest project, The Colour in Anything, will notice that snippets of this song are familiar. This is because Blake, being a close friend of Ocean, was allowed to sample this song for his track Always, and its clear to see why. Like other songs on the album, the organ-driven instrumental endows it with a soulful gospel feel, which is accentuated with the female vocalist’s improvisation during the end of the song.
And so, finally, we come to the final track of this hotly anticipated album. It feels apt, almost like a credits-rolling track. It covers themes of mortality (“sometimes I feel like a God but I’m not a God”) and covers Ocean’s past and relationships. The track isn’t terribly captivating until the beat breakdown with Ocean’s vocals glazed with auto-tune. Somewhat overdone, the track ends with the interview dialogue motif that has been running throughout.
The question on everyone’s mind, of course, even before listening to the album is: does it live it up to the hype? Well, it all comes down to the perception of hype. If you are to align this album to the likes of Adele’s ‘25’, wherein the ‘hype’ was a twiddling of thumbs waiting for a belter of a ballad then you’ll be bitterly disappointed. This album does not come out with any hardhitters from the off, and it doesn’t need to. This is a very mellow, very vibe-out album - a mark of maturity from its predecessor. That isn’t to say, however, that it didn’t live up to any sort of hype. This is still a very classy, daring and well put-together album that appears conscious of its own anticipation. Ocean has proven that not only can he come up with some more catchy tracks but that his artistry is ever expanding, and he allows his counterparts to ride their one-trick ponies.
Image Credits: rollingstone.com