It’s getting hard to keep up with all this new Frank all of a sudden. Following the much-discussed gap in his musical output, his decision to go independent has led to a sudden glut of releases.
His fourth track of 2017, released via his Beats 1 radio show Blonded, is a vastly different sound to what we’ve heard from songs such as Chanel and Biking, with their more solid foundations in terms of pacing, beats and vocal performances.
Lens, particularly for the first minute or so, sounds to me like some sort of trap ballad, if that is even possible. Heavy dollops of autotuned Ocean paired with a trance-like level of production, not entirely dissimilar in sound to the relaxed feel of songs like Siegfried and White Ferrari from Blonde.
I’d be massively surprised to see that Travis Scott had nothing to do with the production, seeing as the alternative version of the track sees a verse from the GOOD Music signee. The understated feel coupled with the jungle sounding instrumentals feel very much like throwaways from his debut album Rodeo.
It progresses into a more traditional Frank Ocean format for the second half, with the vocals going up a gear, and a bit more power injected to the beat, but then you are left wanting for a real big moment within the song.
It’s surely the weakest effort of any Frank Ocean effort this past 12 months. It has the feel of a real slow burner, and yet somebody blows out the candle before we really get a chance to see what it can set on fire.
I’d be massively surprised if this made it onto a future project from Ocean. It doesn’t have the feel of a song that would add anything to a full-length album from himself. It’s not terrible, nor is it even bad, but it lacks that killer moment, particularly in the vocals, that Chanel had with “It’s really you on my mind”, and Biking’s “When’s the last time I asked for some help/I couldn’t get from nobody else, yeah”
Lens is Frank Ocean phoning it in, and it’s inescapably average.