Holy Shit

Listen to Frank Ocean's Brand New Track "Lens"

Ocean dropped the track, and a second version featuring Travis Scott, on another surprise Beats 1 Blonded Radio episode Saturday night.

by Alex Robert Ross
24 April 2017, 4:10am

It's an odd routine, but it's taking shape. Every couple weeks, a little before midnight on the east coast, Twitter starts buzzing about about another new episode of Blonded Radio on Beats 1 and, an hour or so later, after a brilliantly eccentric playlist, we have another new Frank Ocean song. Soon after, there might be a second version, a verse tacked on from a friend. The anticipation, the pay-off, the mystery, and the word "radio" all make it feel charmingly old fashioned, although the mechanism is all brand new. However we think it out, one thing is clear: after years of silence, Frank Ocean is suddenly prolific. And, most importantly, his form is still near-perfect.

Last night, the scene played out again and when it all died down, we had "Lens," a mellow, self-reflexive track that has Frank crooning, auto-tuned at first, calling back to the recently-released "Chanel." There, his guy was "pretty like a girl," now his "girl made him wait 'til the hours of the night." It grows from spare, mellow keys into more tense instrumentation: a pared-down, circling beat, Ocean's own melodies echoing back; there are "smiles" and "sins" on him, but the latter wins out in the end. You can hear the track at the top of the page.

Soon after "Lens," Ocean released a second version of the track—he had two versions—featuring Travis Scott. Listen to that track here.

The "Lens" artwork is a callback to Kerry James Marshall's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self." Listen back to Ocean's recent singles, "Biking" and "Chanel," and his brilliant feature alongside the Migos on Calvin Harris's "Slide."

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