It's now been four years since Channel Orange. Four years since "Thinkin' Bout You," four years since it felt like a brave new voice in music had arrived, four years since I wrote, "This is more than an album, this is a moment in music history."
The past four years also proved that Frank Ocean doesn't give a damn about arrivals. While a business savvy artist would have capitalized on the momentum, with another album coming immediately following the world tour, an Ellen appearance, maybe a Sprite commercial thrown in there, Ocean proved to be far more Lauryn Hill than Drake.
He didn't just pump the brakes on his career, he drove out to the middle of the desert and buried it like the "Flashing Lights" video. Since Channel Orange we've heard exactly one new song, two if you count the Converse collaboration, and even as a guest an Ocean appearance was rarer than a lunar eclipse. This wasn't just an artist who believed in quality over quantity, this was an artist that seemingly might never release an album again. Fitting then that one of his last tracks was with Andre 3000.
Ocean's enigmatic status only served to madden an internet age accustomed to instant and total information. Every whisper of a rumor became a tsunami of stories, every supposed release date unleashed a torrent of tweets as it came and went. And so now, with an album that often seemed more fantasy than reality, finally in our digital hands, it's almost hard to remember what we were waiting for, exactly. The idea of a Frank Ocean album had overwhelmed the reality of an actual Frank Ocean album, and so that's what Boys Don't CryEndless truly is. A return to reality. A chance to listen and, hopefully, both recall the feeling that made us first fall in love all those years ago while forging new memories.
Ocean never owed us another album, but...now that the 18-track offering is finally here, lets all dig in.
Update: Rolling Stone has confirmed with an Apple Music rep that Boys Don't Cry is a separate album, which will be released this weekend. So make that two albums Ocean didn't owe us that we will now have in our possession.
Editor's Note: A full 1 Listen review of Endless will be available on Friday, August 19.
Photo Credit: Apple Music