- Max Shirley
Track review: Frank Ocean's heart-wrenching 'Dear April' and 'Cayendo'
In a rare interview with W Magazine last year, Frank Ocean spoke of how he was training his body to cope with four underwater laps of the pool in his New York home. Ocean said, “I do something every day just to rebel against this nonverbal part of my personality that would have me be unproductive.” The R&B stalwart wants to begin every day on strong footing: trying something new and challenging seems the optimum way for Ocean to get out of bed and, right now, that is the inspiration we all need.
Last week, Frank Ocean – born Christopher Edwin Breaux – digitally released two new tracks, following on from the 2019 singles, ‘DHL’ and ‘In My Room’. This time the two ‘acoustic’ songs scream intimacy and – particularly in the case of ‘Dear April’ – take on a reflective tone. Though Ocean’s new endeavours are meant to be born out of the New Orleans nightlife, with beats you might typically hear in a techno club, his lyrics cannot escape the personal themes which underlie in Ocean’s previous studio albums, ‘Blonde’ and ‘channel ORANGE’.
‘Dear April’ is a track that brings tears to your eyes; you feel a connection forming with Ocean as he truly opens up over the proceeding four minutes of serene, understated guitar and organ instrumentals. His dulcet voice is encapsulated by a reverb present in the chorus as Ocean evokes previous feelings of love, asking that it might rekindle some spark: “Like you took these strangers / And our two strange lives / And made us new / And took us through it”.
In ‘Cayendo’, Ocean demonstrates his Spanish fluency in a track which charts the experience of falling in face of another who does not share similar feelings as you do. The English translation of the title is simply, ‘falling down’. The juxtaposition of Spanish and English lyrics mimics how the two fail to connect in the song, with Ocean declaring his love while acknowledging that his feelings of infatuation are not reciprocated. The track is stripped back with only Spanish guitars accompanying Frank Ocean’s lyrics.
These two tracks, originally sent as 7” inch vinyl singles to adoring fans, reiterate the authenticity and truthfulness to Ocean’s work which we all appreciate. Frank Ocean has an outstanding ability to take personal experiences and reimagine them in a light which everyone can connect with; and it this unrestricted ability to wonder that allows Ocean to create some truly heart-wrenching music.