Label: Boys Don't Cry, Def Jam
Released: Aug. 19
Upon its release, Endless was, briefly, hailed as the long-awaited end of Frank Ocean’s four-year-long hiatus. Unfortunately, with the release of Blonde just a day later, the visual album was quickly overshadowed and then hampered by questions about its nature and purpose. Is it even an album? Was it released merely to fulfill contractual obligations to Def Jam? Why does it start with two songs that aren’t his own? And on and on. Some concerns are valid—it’s aggravating that its video format prevents you from listening to single tracks at a time. But most of these critiques ended up carrying out an unfortunate, distracting narrative that pushed a great collection of music to the backseat. Blonde is a better album, sure, but Endless is a worthy addition to Ocean’s discography in its own right. Of a piece with his other-worldly meditations on love, excess, and identity, it’s a moody soundtrack for our summer days and nights, the slices of life that drift into one another, whether on purpose or by providence.
And Endless does have one thing that Blonde doesn’t: “Rushes To,” a track that is arguably the best of the two albums, if not the entire year. It captures the full range of Ocean’s appeal across lines both plainspoken and poetic, spoken and sung over finger-plucked guitar, then capped by the end’s impassioned, wordless doo-wopping, as well as the staggeringly good lyric which fittingly precedes this flourish: “What you give, my words can’t hold.” It’s an appropriate line for an album that has not received its due praise. —Gus Turner