Frank Ocean finally released new music early Friday, dropping the visual album Endless via Apple Music after months of speculation. Endless is Ocean’s first album since the 2012 opus Channel Orange, but is not the long discussed Boys Don’t Cry. According to the New York Times, that album will still arrive on Apple Music this weekend, albeit with a possible new title.
The visual album includes 18 songs (including interludes), and features appearances from James Blake and Radiohead guitarist and composer Jonny Greenwood. Songs on Endless include Ocean’s cover of the Isley Brothers’ “At Your Best (You Are Love),” which the reclusive R&B star released to his Tumblr page in 2015 on what would have been Aaliyah’s 36th birthday.
Ocean directed Endless by himself. The visual album debuted on the live-stream Ocean began earlier in August.
No other details about the second Ocean album are immediately available. But speculation about what was previously known as Boys Don’t Cry ramped up in early July, when Ocean posted an image to his website depicting a library due date slip that some interpreted as portending he’d release the album by the end of the month. Though July ended with no further word from the singer, he added a mysterious, Apple Music-hosted video to his site this month. After that premiere, reports confirmed Ocean would release Boys Don’t Cry on Friday, Aug. 5, along with a “major video” and a “printed publication” available exclusively at Apple store; That date came and went without new material, however, and Ocean was silent until Thursday.
Since releasing Channel Orange in July 2012, Ocean’s profile has risen considerably. Once known as the resident crooner in California rap collective Odd Future, the singer became a star in his own right, guesting on high-profile albums including Beyoncé’s 2013 self-titled record and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo from February. He also allegedly hit the studio with artists from Depeche Mode to Lil B to Danger Mouse, although none of that material emerged.
But Ocean had released little new music of his own — just a brief original in November 2014 and an the Isley Brothers’ cover two months later — and details surrounding a possible follow-up to Channel Orange and 2011’s Nostalgia, Ultra were notoriously scarce and often false. In April 2015, Ocean posted a photo to his website promising he’d release a publication called Boys Don’t Cry and his third album in July of that year. After failing to release any material, Ocean pulled out of his headlining appearance at Los Angeles’ FYF Festival in August days before the planned gig due to a “scheduling conflict.” (Kanye West filled in for him on short notice.)
Though still scant, recent details to emerge from Ocean’s camp were more promising. In March, Malay — the producer who collaborated with Ocean for much of Channel Orange and has also worked with the likes of Miguel and Zayn Malik — told Pitchfork that the singer’s next album could arrive in “maybe a month.” Added Malay: “He’s been working super hard. I feel like he’s working harder than he’s ever worked in his life. I’m excited for everyone to hear it. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised, for sure.”
And in May, electro-soul artist James Blake — whose new album, The Colour in Anything, features two co-writing credits from Ocean — hinted to EW about what to expect from Ocean’s upcoming project. “You could probably talk to almost anybody involved in that record and I’m not sure anybody would be able to tell you what’s happening,” said Blake, but “he is going to make people very happy.”
Earlier this week during a Reddit AMA, Malay said of Ocean’s new music and its delayed release, “Art cannot be rushed. It’s about making sure the perfect aesthetic for the situation has been reached, to do that, takes constant tweaking, trial and error… That goes for any creative [situation].”
See the track list here.
1. “Device Control”
4. “Commes Des Garcons”
6. “In Here Somewhere”
7. “At Your Best (You Are Love)”
9. Ambience 001: “In a Certain Way”
10. Ambience 002: “Honeybaby”
12. “Slide on Me”