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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

July 30, 2012 at 9:50 AM

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Summer of Frank Ocean: 'Fertilizer'

Frank Ocean's "Channel Orange" is the summer album of 2012 — a low-key stroke of genius from the Los Angeles-via-New Orleans R&B singer-songwriter, making headlines for bringing man/man romance into pop R&B. But it's deeper than that. I'm blogging about each song individually, in order. Sorry but Internet Explorer does not support the full album stream below.

Restraint is a huge theme on "Channel Orange." Often that means spare musical arrangements and lyrics open to interpretation. Sometimes it means songs are just too damn short. At 40 seconds, "Fertilizer" is the too-damn-shortest. And yet the tinny, tiny soul-pop song — despite the fact that it seems like it's just about to get going before it unravels — accomplishes a lot, lightening the front half of what can be a very heavy album, prompting every reviewer to compare Frank Ocean to Stevie Wonder, because it sounds like one of Wonder's bouncy, zippy tunes, and suggesting that underneath the finished "Channel Orange" is a mountain of worthwhile sketches. The difference between restraint and emptiness is restraint makes things seem deeper. And "Fertilizer" does that, makes Ocean seem like he could do throwback soul if he wanted. And maybe he will. But not yet.

See also:

Summer of Frank Ocean: 'Thinkin Bout You'

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