Memrise by Frank Ocean

7 July 2019

It’s been a little over two years since Frank Ocean has released his Grammy-winning, beautifully crafted masterpiece of an album, channel ORANGE. The album was very much critically acclaimed, being dubbed “best album of 2012” by numerous websites and magazines, while also garnering him comparisons to the likes of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Prince. The success of channel ORANGE subsequently catapulted Ocean to international stardom. However, after a few months of basking in the limelight, the Los Angeles based singer-songwriter and Odd Future affiliate seemingly dropped off the face of the Earth (deleting both his Twitter and Instagram accounts), leaving his fans to wonder what he had in store for his sophomore album. Ocean remained silent through much of 2013 and 2014, save for a couple of guest appearances on colleagues Tyler, The Creator’s and Earl Sweatshirt’s respective full-length projects and a collaborative track as a part of Converse’s “Three Artists, One Song” series, “Hero”.

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He also premiered three new tracks while on a European tour in 2013 that have yet to be confirmed as album cuts (“Feel California”, “It’s All Good”, “Brave”). Despite these somewhat satisfying performances, Frank’s fans have insisted on the release of another full-length LP (which was ironically promised by an unknown source to be released during the summer of 2014). As a sentimental “gift” to us on 2014’s Black Friday, Ocean has released a new, two-minute track entitled “Memrise”.

If I were to describe this song in one word, it would have to be mellow. The production of the track makes me envision a relaxing night on the beach, calm and soothing. For the first forty-five seconds of the track, Frank repeatedly croons in his falsetto voice “memorize”. The very short track goes on to detail how he seems to be “mesmerized” by a certain person. The quality of Ocean’s vocals seemed to be purposefully muffled and distorted, as if he recorded underwater. I listened to the song on repeat a minimum of ten times, desperately hoping that it would somehow grow on me. To be quite frank (no pun intended), it did not. I was rather disappointed, to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, it was a relaxing, dreamy tune and a comforting sign of life from Mr. Ocean, but I expected much more after a two year hiatus. Perhaps Ocean is just teasing us. Perhaps Ocean has more tracks similar to the three he unveiled in 2013. Perhaps Ocean’s sophomore album will eventually release. Perhaps. Until he releases some sort of full-length single or another snippet, “Memrise” will have to suffice.

Drop the album, Frank.

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