Song Review: Frank Ocean’s “DHL”
“How come you shook?”, Frank Ocean questions in his new single “DHL.” It’s fair to say that music lovers and Frank Ocean fans alike are beyond shook.
Hours after announcing an upcoming vinyl release of two singles “Dear April” and “Cayendo” (both of which debuted at his club night PrEP+) , Ocean shocked the world with the surprise drop of his newest single “DHL” at the end of his Beats1 radio show, “blonded RADIO” Saturday night. The release marks the singer’s first song since his 2018 cover of “Moon River,” and teases a possible full-length project with its intriguing cover art.
Frank Ocean fans believe the #DHL artwork teases a full album based on the 13 silhouettes featured at the bottom. ?
What do you make of the artwork? pic.twitter.com/hemPwRSGIZ
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) October 20, 2019
The sultry track kicks off with Boys Noize‘s thumping, electronic production leading into Ocean’s signature rap/sung delivery. In line with the launch of his new queer club night, “PrEP+,” Ocean avoids subtlety with a series of overtly sexual lyrics like “suck me off,” “we been fuckin’ from the jump” and “I’m pitchin’ a tent.” Sonically, the song’s dreamy production and chorus-less structure makes one feel like they’re floating through time and space (or on a pill, as Ocean suggests several times throughout the track).
Delivering a low-tone expression, the song’s hallucinatory beat makes up for Ocean’s monotonous yet smooth vocals. Similar to the ‘Blonde’ intro, “Nikes,” Ocean once again opts to blanket his vocals under thick electronic production in a way that adds to the mystique surrounding his personal life.
The song’s experimental sound coincides with the direction that Ocean is marching toward with the future of his musical career. Ocean recently told W Magazine: “I’ve been interested in club, and the many different iterations of nightlife for music and songs. And so the things I look at now have a lot to do with those scenes: Detroit, Chicago, techno, house, French electronic…”
Ocean also told the magazine that his new music will explore themes such as vulnerability and strength. One could argue the sexual nature of the song’s lyrics is empowering, especially from an openly gay, Black male.
By exploring a low-fi sound that relies on an abstract feeling more than the lyrical content, Ocean has created an out-of-this-world psychedelic track that makes it the perfect late-night jam. If anything, Ocean succeeds in creating a mood that lets the imagination run wild. “DHL” is certainly a promising intro track to what we hope will result in a full-length project soon.
What do you think of Frank Ocean’s new song, “DHL”? Do you think there is a full-length album coming soon? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @PopCrave!