Local alt-rock-indie-rap band Mt. Cleverest have announced a bunch of shows celebrating their latest, Frank Ocean-inspired single on the Forever Summer Tour. Catch them at the Indi Bar, Scarborough on Saturday, November 30; The Aardvark, Freo on Saturday, December 7; The Sixty30, Merriwa on Saturday, December 14; Moore & Moore Gallery’s Beats for Bravery Festival, Freo on Friday, December 20; El Grotto, Scarborough on Friday, December 20; and The Firestation, Busselton on Saturday, December 21. Mt Cleverest bassist Andrew Siffleet discusses their top 5 Frank Ocean tracks to coincide with the release of new single, Forever (check it out at the end of the article).
Nights’ magic is that it’s basically a super concentrated version of (latest album) Blonde. It directly explores Ocean’s desire to connect and share experiences despite his frustrations and disappointments that he has with relationships. This duality, which is the main theme is Blonde, is also represented in the instrumental with one half being an upbeat hip hop verse and the other being a dark IDM-style track. Placing this song midway through the album’s track listing also perfectly transitions the album from its poppy RnB front end to its raw and exposed back half.
Solo is a surprisingly conceptual song considering it consists of so few elements. The stripped back production and warm organ sound give the song an immediate intimacy that really add weight to the personal lyrics. The lack of instrumentation also ties in to the isolated theme, while the backing vocals give a trippy and distant atmosphere to match the drug references. It’s a very honest exploration into Ocean’s relationship with drugs and its effects on his personal relationships, with his incredible voice rising and falling to match the high/ low theme.
Sweet Life is a great example of how up front Ocean is with his influences. In this case it’s Stevie Wonder. Ocean’s voice is completely at home over the loose, vintage 70s instrumental. Again, similar to Wonder, the song is critical of wealth and its ability to blind people to the rest of the world, but Ocean displays his cynicism by repeating “sweet life” in the pre chorus until it sounds almost sarcastic.
Super Rich Kids shows off Ocean’s ability to use the production of his instrumentals to create a vivid atmosphere. He then takes it further by pairing that atmosphere with his lyrics to make a statement. The punctuating instrumental gives the song an almost drunk/ Dilla-esque feel while he explores excess and indulgence with an almost bragging tone. Which is followed by an equally apathetic verse from Earl Sweatshirt. The end result is a scathing take on entitlement.
I think Pink Matter is the embodiment of what Frank Ocean’s music is all about. It encapsulates a lot of frequently used themes found on both (debut album) Channel Orange and Blonde (isolation/ desire/ introspection), packages it with visual lyrics and surprisingly nerdy references, and then layers them over a sparse and morose instrumental. That mixed with a similarly vulnerable verse from Andre 3000 and soulful guitar work make it an easy favourite.