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Frank Ocean Is The Brightest Attraction in Travis Scott’s Astroworld

Listening to Travis Scott’s new album Astroworld feels a lot like entering the phantasmagorical theme park depicted in its David LaChappelle-designed cover art. Unexpected guests and surprising sounds jump out at you from every angle—there’s vocals and production by everyone from Drake and Juice WRLD to Tame Impala and John Mayer.

It’s alternately thrilling and exhausting, like a haunted house wheeling out a parade of increasingly baroque horrors. James Blake, Phillip Bailey, Kid Cudi, and Stevie Wonder all featured on a song where Scott sings “Diamonds are the wife of life”? Yeah, yeah, we get it, a spooky scarecrow with a chainsaw and a scythe just blasted goo everywhere. Is this ride over yet?

But there’s one guest whose appearance feels as essential as the perfect bite of Coney Island cotton candy, if I may continue this tortured metaphor for a bit longer. That is, of course, Frank Ocean. He appears on “Carousel” with a chorus so understated and poetic that I feel compelled to post the entire thing below:

“Brand new, brand new
This new place I got to
New world, new sky
That’s so blue, it’s black too
New growth, new growth
All these fakes I outgrew
Blue bands, blue bands
Get my cash from drive-thru
Boy you’re too flash, too flash
Keep the flash minimal
Bitch, I’m too cold, too cold
See my breath visible”

On an album where Scott never stops doing the most, these words stand out as an oasis of effortless chill. The drums drop out when the chorus hits; Ocean’s melodies float over sparse keys, delivered with the affect of someone singing in their room over a toy Casio. Time slows, lights blur. The most magnetic attraction at this overstuffed circus of sound and color becomes Ocean, standing by himself, watching his breath materialize under the night sky.