Endless (Frank Ocean album)

Endless is a visual album by American singer Frank Ocean. It was released on August 19, 2016, as a exclusive streaming-only video on Apple Music, and preceded the August 20 release of Ocean's second studio album Blonde. Endless was later remastered and had a limited reissue in physical audio and visual formats on April 10, 2018.[5]

Endless
Frankoceanendlessart.png
Artwork used on Blonded Radio
Video by
ReleasedAugust 19, 2016
Recorded2013–16
Studio
Genre
Length45:52
Label
DirectorFrank Ocean
Producer
Frank Ocean chronology
Channel Orange
(2012)
Endless
(2016)
Blonde
(2016)
Title card

The album followed a period of controversy for Ocean, who was in a highly publicized battle with Def Jam Recordings, and it was the subject of widespread media discussion upon release. Endless was recorded in various studios across California, as well as in London, Miami, and Berlin, with production handled primarily by Ocean, Vegyn, Michael Uzowuru, and Troy Noka; Ocean previously collaborated with Noka on his debut mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra (2011).

The film follows Ocean silently woodworking on a staircase while the audio plays. Music journalists have noted the album features a minimalist aesthetic with a loose musical structure and contains similar elements featured on Blonde, including ambient pop, avant-soul, R&B, and trap. Thematically, Endless explores Ocean's status as a celebrity, love and heartbreak, and age. It also contains uncredited guest appearances from Sampha and Jazmine Sullivan.

Endless received generally positive reception, with critics praising the musical content, namely its abstract structural compositions, although some were divided over the visual aspects, noting its length. Upon its re-release, it was positively reassessed, with praise directed toward its variety.

BackgroundEdit

On February 21, 2013, Ocean confirmed work begun for his second studio album, including tentative collaborations with Tyler, The Creator, Pharrell Williams, and Danger Mouse. Ocean also revealed it would be another concept album,[6] and he was drawing influence from The Beach Boys and The Beatles. Ocean also expressed an interest in collaborating with Tame Impala and King Krule, and also stated an intention to record in Bora Bora.[7]

In April 2014, Ocean stated his second album was nearly finished, and in June, Billboard reported the singer was working with Happy Perez, Charlie Gambetta and Kevin Ristro (whom he worked with on Nostalgia, Ultra), alongside Hit-Boy, Rodney Jerkins, and Danger Mouse.[8][9] On November 29, 2014, Ocean released a snippet to "Memrise", a song rumored as the lead single from his new album, on Tumblr. The snippet received generally positive reception, with critics praising Ocean's musical experimentation and continued exploration of melancholic themes.[10]

On April 6, 2015, Ocean announced the follow-up to channel ORANGE would be released in July, as well as a publication, although no further details were released. The album was ultimately not released in July, with no explanation given for its delay. The publication was rumored to be called Boys Don't Cry, and was slated to feature "Memrise".[11][12][13]

Release and promotionEdit

On July 2, 2016, he hinted at a possible second album on his website. It featured an image of a library card labeled "Boys Don't Cry" with numerous stamps, implying various due dates between July 2015 and November 2016. Ocean's brother, Ryan Breaux, further suggested a release in July 2016, with an Instagram caption of the image reading "BOYS DON'T CRY #JULY2016".[14] On August 1, 2016, a live video hosted by Apple Music showing an empty hall was launched on the website boysdontcry.co. The website also featured a new "boysdontcry" graphic. The video marked the first update on the website since a "date due" post from July.[15]

On August 1, 2016, a video appeared that showed Frank Ocean woodworking and sporadically playing instrumentals on loop.[16] That same day, many news outlets reported that August 5, 2016, could be the release date for Boys Don't Cry.[17][18] The video was revealed to be promotion for Endless, a 45-minute-long visual album that began streaming on Apple Music on August 19, 2016.[19] It was later confirmed that Endless is a different project than Ocean's second studio album. The assumed title Boys Don't Cry had been replaced with a new title. Endless was his final album with Def Jam Recordings, which fulfilled his recording contract.[20][21]

On April 24, 2017, Ocean aired a remix of "Slide on Me" featuring Young Thug on his radio show Blonded Radio. On November 27, on Cyber Monday, Ocean released physical, remastered editions of Endless, along with new merchandise.[22]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.1/10[23]
Metacritic74/100[24]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [25]
The A.V. ClubC+[26]
Consequence of SoundB−[27]
The Guardian     [28]
Mojo     [29]
Now3/5[30]
Pitchfork7.5/10[31]
Q     [32]
Spin6.6/10[33]
Uncut8/10[34]

Endless received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 74, based on 13 reviews.[24]

In The Guardian, Tim Jonze said Ocean mixed the pop with the avant-garde on Endless, calling it "a rich, varied and – at times – challenging musical feast", however noting that "much of this album floats by hazily and with no clear direction".[28] In a joint review of Endless and Blonde for Q magazine, Victoria Segal said "these records might not eclipse Channel Orange, but they have their own mercurial gleam, mapping the spaces between people, reaching for a hazy intimacy that almost feels real."[32] Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork wrote that "as a piece of filmed entertainment, Endless is painfully dull", however praised the "much more exciting" music, comparing it to a mixtape, and stating that it is "an intriguing peek into [Ocean's] process, and it contains some of the rawest vocal takes he’s ever put out".[31] For Consequence of Sound, Nina Corcoran wrote that the video "wobbles between its highs and lows". She was ambivalent to the music's abstract nature, noting that "is filled with beauty, but it feels like a dream where you don’t remember much, even if you take a pen to paper as soon as you wake".[27] In a mixed review for AllMusic, Andy Kellman wrote that the tracks "melt into one another", concluding that "it's a smartly ordered patchwork of mostly secondary material".[25]

Spin magazine's Brian Josephs was more critical, believing it did not work as an album. "As a whole, Endless feels formless," Josephs wrote, "like pretty, curlicue-flaunting cursive with no adherence to notebook margins."[33] Dan Caffrey of The A.V. Club stated that the album's concept "would be slightly fascinating", if the length didn't result in "the video becom[ing] a chore to sit through". He praised the album's opening tracks, however criticised the music overall as "undercooked ambience, half-finished verses, and robotic descriptions of Apple products".[26]

Track listingEdit

All tracks produced by Frank Ocean, Vegyn, Troy Noka and Michael Uzowuru, except where noted.

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Device Control"Wolfgang Tillmans0:56
2."(At Your Best) You Are Love"5:21
3."Alabama"Frank Ocean1:25
4."Mine"0:32
5."U-N-I-T-Y"2:54
6."Ambience 001: A Certain Way" 0:11
7."Comme des Garçons"Ocean0:59
8."Xenons"0:31
9."Ambience 002: Honey Baby" 0:09
10."Wither"Ocean2:34
11."Hublots"1:48
12."In Here Somewhere"
  • Ocean
  • Troy Noka
  • Thornalley
1:45
13."Slide on Me"Ocean3:07
14."Sideways"Ocean1:54
15."Florida"Ocean1:15
16."Impietas / Deathwish (ASR)"
  • Ocean
  • Noka
  • Thornalley
1:56
17."Rushes"Ocean3:26
18."Rushes To"
2:12
19."Higgs"Ocean3:39
20."Mitsubishi Sony"
  • Ocean
  • Thornalley
2:26
21."Device Control (Reprise)"Tillmans7:04
Total length:45:52

Notes

  • "Device Control" and its reprise are not included in audio-only releases of the album, with "Mitsubishi Sony" extended to 2:51, leading to a total length of 38:17.
  • There are some discrepancies between various track listings of the album. Not all releases list the songs "Ambience 001: A Certain Way", "Xenons", "Ambience 002: Honey Baby", "Walk Away", "Impietas", "Mitsubishi Sony", and the reprise of "Device Control" in their track lists.
  • "Comme des Garçons" is incorrectly spelt "Commes des Garcons" in video releases.
  • "Mitsubishi Sony" is stylized as "Mitsu-Sony" in the VHS/DVD releases.

Sample credits

PersonnelEdit

FilmEdit

  • Frank Ocean – direction
  • Francis Soriano – direction of photography, editing
  • Thomas Mastorakos – production design
  • Wendi Morris – production
  • Rita Zebdi – wardrobe
  • Henri Helander – wardrobe assistance
  • Paper Mache Monkey – art department
  • TMG – set construction
  • Grant Lau – VFX
  • Brandon Chavez – coloring
  • Caleb Laven – sound mixing
  • Keith Ferreira – 1st AC
  • Taj Francois – assistant editing/DIT
  • Maarten Hofmeijer – sound design
  • Brent Kiser – sound design

AlbumEdit

Release historyEdit

List of release dates, formats, and label
Region Date Format Label
Various August 19, 2016
November 27, 2017[a]
Boyfriend

Notes

  1. ^ VHS was shipped from February 10, 2018. CD/DVD and vinyl were shipped from April 9, 2018.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Earls, John. "Universal Music to ban streaming exclusives after Frank Ocean 'duped' them". NME. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  2. ^ Pulido, Izzy. "FRANK OCEAN BANGS OUT 'BLONDE,' 'ENDLESS,' AND 'NIKES' ALL IN ONE WEEKEND". Anyarena. Archived from the original on 2 September 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  3. ^ Jonze, Tim (August 25, 2016). "Frank Ocean: Blonde review – a baffling and brilliant five-star triumph". The Guardian. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Adejobi, Alicia (August 19, 2016). "Frank Ocean visual album Endless is an orchestral dream with synth R'n'B and trap for good measure". International Business Times. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  5. ^ Ross Scarano; Dan Rys. "Frank Ocean's 'Endless' Album Is Coming To Streaming Services: Exclusive". Billboard.
  6. ^ "Frank Ocean's Next Album Is On Its Way!". PerezHilton.com. 2013-02-21. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
  7. ^ "Frank Ocean 'Like 10, 11 Songs' Into New Album". Rolling Stone. February 20, 2013. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
  8. ^ "Memrise by Frank Ocean". dindindara. Archived from the original on 2014-12-05.
  9. ^ Hampp, Andrew (September 15, 2014). "Frank Ocean Signs to New Management With Three Six Zero". Billboard. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  10. ^ "Listen to Frank Ocean's new track Memrise". The Guardian. November 28, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  11. ^ Byford, Sam (April 7, 2015). "Frank Ocean's next album is coming in July". The Verge. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  12. ^ Beauchemin, Molly (April 6, 2015). "Frank Ocean Announces New Record". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  13. ^ "New Frank Ocean album due in July". The Guardian. April 7, 2015. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  14. ^ Ivie, Devon (July 2, 2016). "Frank Ocean Teases Boys Don't Cry July Release Date". Vulture.com. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  15. ^ Monroe, Jazz (August 1, 2016). "Frank Ocean Launches Mysterious Live Stream". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  16. ^ "Frank Ocean". Boys Don't Cry.
  17. ^ "Frank Ocean's Long-Awaited 'Boys Don't Cry' Is Due on Friday". The New York Times. August 2, 2016.
  18. ^ "Frank Ocean to Release New Album 'Boys Don't Cry' This Week". Rolling Stone.
  19. ^ "Frank Ocean Releases "Visual Album" Endless: Watch - Pitchfork Media". The New York Times.
  20. ^ "After Releasing Endless Through Def Jam, Frank Ocean Went Independent With Blonde". 23 August 2016.
  21. ^ "Frank Ocean Unveils Contemplative 'Endless' Visual Album Stream". Rolling Stone.
  22. ^ "Frank Ocean Selling Endless Vinyl, DVD, More in Cyber Monday Sale | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 2017-11-28.
  23. ^ "Endless by Frank Ocean reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  24. ^ a b "Reviews for Endless by Frank Ocean". Metacritic. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  25. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "Endless – Frank Ocean". AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  26. ^ a b Caffrey, Dan (August 24, 2016). "Both of Frank Ocean's new albums are more singular than you think". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  27. ^ a b Corcoran, Nina (August 22, 2016). "Frank Ocean – Endless". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  28. ^ a b Jonze, Tim (August 19, 2012). "Frank Ocean: Endless first-listen review – brilliantly confounding". The Guardian. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  29. ^ Cowan, Andy (August 24, 2016). "Frank Ocean: Endless/Blonde". Mojo. Archived from the original on August 25, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  30. ^ Ritchie, Kevin (August 22, 2016). "Album of the week: Frank Ocean mulls over mortality with two albums". Now. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  31. ^ a b Dombal, Ryan (August 24, 2016). "Frank Ocean: Blonde / Endless". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  32. ^ a b Segal, Victoria (November 2016). "The Big Blue". Q. No. 365. p. 112.
  33. ^ a b Unterberger, Andrew; Iandoli, Kathy; Pearce, Sheldon; Pagnani, Renato; Josephs, Brian (August 19, 2016). "Frank Ocean's 'Endless': SPIN's Impulsive Reviews". Spin. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  34. ^ Martin, Piers (November 2016). "Frank Ocean: Blond(e) / Endless". Uncut. No. 234. p. 24.
  35. ^ Myles Tanzer (19 August 2016). "There's A Tiny Piece Of Queer History Hiding In Frank Ocean's Visual Album". The Fader. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  36. ^ "Frank Ocean lança álbum visual com sample da música 'Vapor Barato', de Gal Costa". HuffPost Brasil (in Portuguese). August 19, 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2017.