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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

8.6

Frank Ocean
Nostalgia, Ultra

It starts with the loading of a cassette. Suitable I guess, considering the nature of this record, which is as indebted to the past as the founding members of the Black Eyed Peas are to Fergie The Duchess Of Pants Pissing Pop. But, this isn't an analysis of the mindless state of modern pop music. We've done that plenty of times. So let's not get sidetracked.

The cassette is loaded and from there we're almost immediately floated out into the powdery clouds on the wings of that beautiful wench — Nostalgia. As the record's title would suggest, it's the central theme here. The bread and butter that your mother used to make on special occasions. The heart and soul. The Strawberry Soul Swing in fact, which is the title of the record's first proper song (urgh, our bad.. thx Glugger). Airy and non-confrontational, the Coldplay cover (thx again Glugs) is the perfect lead in for the record's style, focusing on tiny childlike reflections, utilising the memory snippet as a symbol of a simpler time, before pregnancy scares, weekly abortions and vasectomies.

But the strength of the album is in the way it doesn't get stuck on simply glancing backwards. It would have been easy for Frank to create 14 tracks of memory lane skipping and his soulful larynx probably would have made it an enjoyable adventure. But instead he decides to cover a wide variety of themes, including drug escapism, gay marriage, infidelity, suicide, lust, divorce, passion and, of course, Radiohead. His consistent soulful delivery, which wanders between a calm sense of clarity and genuinely passionate outbursts, combined with his reflective tone, provides the basis for the mixing and matching of these ideas. For the most part, Nostalgia, Ultra, is a man reading stories from the pages of a well-worn, leather bound diary. Some are amusing, some bluntly saddening, but all sound like believable vignettes of life.

The record closes with a couple of loosely defined "covers" — The Eagles' Hotel California and MGMT's Electric Feel — where Frank neatly ties in his own tales around the familiarity of the songs. Even my own personal distaste of MGMT doesn't derail this finale, with Frank's overly passionate "I'm gonna fuck you in my backyard" tale of lust intersecting well with the overly-glossed style of the indie-acid-pop tune.

While we're cautious to not simply lump another log on the existing flavour-of-the-month Blogroll bonfire, this rhythm-and-blues, neo-soul and blues revival is, for now, producing some amazingly engaging music. And Frank Ocean's unique spin, taking his obvious influences and using their soulful features on his life experiences, makes him probably the most genuine participant so far.

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Frank Ocean

 

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Comments

graciie

beautiful review j-nailz

1 decade ago

glugger

The first song is called 'Strawberry Swing,' and is a Coldplay cover. Also, the other covers are terrible. Apart from that, it's a great album and a good review.

1 decade ago

Jonny Yes Yes

wheres me brain,,,?
thanks for the heads up glugger,, embarrassingly bad work on our part,,,

1 decade ago

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