After three weeks of waiting, Frank Ocean's long-awaited album has finally been released – but it's not the one anybody was expecting.
Endless, described as a "film" by Apple Music, who have the exclusive rights to Ocean's new music, was released at midnight on Friday morning.
But there is more to come. Endless is not Ocean's anticipated album – the follow-up to his acclaimed 2012 debut Channel Orange – but a sibling record to it. Rolling Stone confirmed that Apple will release Ocean's sophomore album this weekend, but that the soul singer has scrapped the original title, Boys Don't Cry, and it will be called something else.
Endless is a 45-minute-long soundtrack to an extension of the footage that was streamed at the beginning of August on Ocean's website boysdontcry.co, showing a warehouse filled with studio equipment and some people – including Ocean – moving it around and appearing to build a wooden staircase. Originally only available for four days, this stream was reactivated on Thursday night ahead of the release of Endless on Apple Music.
Endless is a contemplative record, and features collaborations from musicians including Mercury Prize-winner James Blake, Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood, SBTKRT vocalist Sampha, producer Arca, who has worked with Kanye West, FKA Twigs and Björk and string accompaniment from the London Contemporary Orchestra, which was conducted by Robert Ames.
The "visual album" opens with Ocean's new take on the Isley Brothers' At Your Best (You Are Love), which he first released as a cover in 2015.
While Endless will sate those fans who have waited four years for new material from Ocean (its release caused Frank Ocean's name to trend on Twitter for several hours), a question mark continues to hang over the release – and content – of his unnamed second album.
Boys Don't Cry was originally slated for release in July 2015, and has been pushed back since. Even as recently as this week it was rumoured that the album wouldn't be released until November 2016 due to misleading clues left on Ocean's website, such as a library card that was sporadically updated with new dates.
Ocean's producer, Malay, suggested there could be a further wait for the singer's album on Tuesday in a Q&A on Reddit, in which he posted: "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]."