It’s been nearly a year since Frank Ocean dropped Channel Orange, his widely praised debut studio album. Since then, he’s given a few memorable performances (and some not-so-memorable) and picked up his first two Grammy awards. The swarm of accolades, and the elevation of Ocean as a new R&B superstar, led inevitably to a small pushback, with some questioning whether Ocean deserved to be coronated so quickly. But even if we grant that Channel Orange is a great album, another question arises: Is it a fluke? Or does Ocean have enough talent to keep growing?
Our first glimpse of the answer is promising. During a recent performance in Munich, Ocean debuted a few new songs for his audience, and one in particular is beguiling, with a haunting electric guitar line and an echoing vocal effect reminiscent of “Pink Matter” and “Wise Man.” The lyrics are not all clearly audible, but what we can hear sounds just as introspective as what we’ve come to expect from Ocean. “I can’t relate to my peers/ I’d rather live outside/ I’d rather chip my pride than lose my mind out here,” he sings. “Maybe I’m a fool/ Or maybe I should move and settle, two kids and a swimming pool.”
Ocean’s said to be working with previous collaborator Pharrell Williams, as well as Danger Mouse, for his next album. If this song is any indication, could be another great one.