The obvious markers of a good album, for me, are: "Do I notice new things about the songs every time I listen to them?" and "Does my favorite song off the album rotate frequently?"
Frank Ocean's Blonde allows me to say yes to both questions. Easily my favorite album of 2016, Blonde was worth the 4-year wait. Yes, nothing can outdo Channel Orange, but it's a little silly when fans expect every artist's album to one-up the previous one. Channel Orange is great, Blonde is also great.
The easiest songs to vibe to are of course the ones with a more traditional song structure: Ivy, Pink + White, and Self Control. Those are some catchy choruses, and the casual back-up vocals by Beyonce definitely don't hurt anything. Neither does the outro of Self Control, which sounds exactly like how the end of summertime feels. I could also write an entire post about 2-part songs (maybz I will) and would be remise to not mention Nights, in which an absolutely delightful Channel-Orange-Pyramids-esque switcheroo occurs halfway through.
But the song I find myself unable to move past is Skyline To. If Blonde's backdrop is summertime, Skyline To is the solstice. Lyrically, structurally, and compositionally, the song follows the progression of a single day. Frank sings about the phases of his relationship in terms of the phases of a day: morning and evening. Because he is with his partner all day, there is some sweet relief from the overwhelming sense of longing in his other tracks. For one song, or one day, he doesn't need to miss anyone. Structurally, the song is linear; it goes on without returning to a chorus or verse, just as the hours in a day march forward. Compositionally, Frank primarily uses B, C, D-flat, and E-flat. Again, these chords are adjacent to each other (on a piano) and sequential; he's not skipping around to other parts of the scale, or other parts of the day. He's progressing linearly through the chords, like time.
Skyline To shows us that the only thing that's constant is change. The only thing that we can rely on is time. The only thing that feels like love is night turning into morning.
Summer's not as long as it used to be, every day counts like crazy.