Please let me in?
If you weren't aware, Frank Ocean's Blond was just ranked the number one album of the decade by Pitchfork—a well-deserved accolade.
Blond is a transcendent masterpiece, a work that is musically and lyrically innovative while also packing the kind of emotional punch that always leaves me seeing stars.
Tonight, somewhere in New York City, Frank Ocean will be hosting his first club night. If you haven't already received the event invite, you won't, as this is a super-exclusive kind of thing. I'm still waiting for my invitation, but that's probably for the best, because I think if I were in the same room as Frank Ocean, I'd pass out or dissolve into a pool of glitter and tears. I know he says, "I'm just a guy, not a god" in "Futura Free," but I'm not sure. I think if God wrote a song, it would probably sound something like that track.
Entitled PrEP+, the club will be 80s-themed. It's named after the pre-exposure prophylaxis drug used by people at risk of contracting HIV. According to the press release, the club will be a "homage to what could have been if the drug PrEP... had been invented" during the 1980s club scene. PrEP was first adapted in 2012 and is available only by prescription.
By the 1980s, HIV and AIDS had reached epidemic levels in America, and people with these illnesses were often dehumanized and refused treatment. Associated with queerness and poverty, HIV/AIDS was largely ignored and heavily stigmatized. In order for the government to allocate the funds needed to search for a cure, mass protests had to occur.
Though treatments are available today, people with HIV still face discrimination and stigma, and many don't realize that even people who have HIV have the option to become "undetectable" with treatment. That's why an event like Ocean's is so important—it emphasizes that there are ways to prevent and cure HIV, and it reminds us that no one should have to live in fear of it or of their preferences for how to love and experience joy.
Club life was a vital part of queer and alternative culture in the 1980s. Queer clubs were rare places where gay people and others who didn't fit into mainstream society could go to let loose and be themselves. Though many queer nightclubs have become heavily corporatized (or infiltrated by straight, often wealthy, and white people) beginning with Rudy Giuliani's moral craze around nightclubs in the 1980s, it seems that Ocean's club will be dedicated to pulling from the radical spirit of 1980s club culture while putting a futuristic and idealistic spin on the problems and struggles that plagued those years.
Among its rules, Ocean's club reads that "consent is mandatory" and says there will be "zero tolerance for racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism or any form or discrimination." Sadly, no photography will be permitted. Okay, maybe I really do want to be there. But as I listen to Nights for the thousandth time on the train home tonight, I'm going to be happy just knowing that somewhere in this city, Frank Ocean is dancing.
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One Texas couple became a meme after they went 18 minutes without shredded cheese on their fajitas. What could be worse?
Karens. Even if you don't know them by name, you know who they are.
Karens have been asking to speak to managers all over American suburbia ever since Kate Gosselin debuted her infamous reverse-mullet on Jon and Kate Plus 8 in 2007. "Karens"—the collective nickname for middle-aged entitled white women who love nothing more than being pains in your ass—have been walking among us for quite some time, but as shelter-in-place orders and mask mandates have taken over the world, the presence of Karens has become even more apparent.
Last weekend, a Karen went viral in a since-deleted Tweet for a reason only Karens would empathize with. Jason Vicknair, a 40-year-old man from Allen, Texas, was just trying to enjoy his first date night out in three months with his wife at a Tex-Mex restaurant called Mi Cocina. Things took a turn for the worse.
The English indie-pop auteur's fifth studio album is another concept record, a nostalgic-synth horror film soundtrack more opaque and abstract than its predecessor.
An organ announces the opening of "The Hunger" with an austere, foreboding moan—before the drums kick in and invite you to dance.
That contrast, between the track's inherent dread and its pop veins, is the first sign that Lost Girls, the fifth offering from English artist Bat for Lashes, isn't meant for the faint of heart. "The Hunger," the album's second track, sounds like a cut from a John Hughes horror movie. Lost Girls is a concept album, which is Natasha Khan's specialty. It tells a story about love and power and the ways they intersect. The songwriting plays with metaphors of desire, addiction, and even murder and vampirism, but it's the album's artpop-horror production that gives the album its life. The choice to marry '80s-synth nostalgia to dark bass and palatial soundscaping is deliberate and effective: It turns Lost Girls into a metaphor about how love's comfort can come at an unforgiving price.
Bat for Lashes - The Hunger (Official Video) www.youtube.com
This level of conceptual craft, and the specific focus on love, is nothing new for Khan. Her last record, 2016's The Bride, unfolded a tragedy with a similar melding of the uncanny and the familiar. The record told the story of a woman who grieved the untimely death of the man she never married. Poring over Lost Girls' lyrics, as well as the mysterious Instagram videos Khan posted leading up to the album's release, reveals a narrative: A young woman, Nikki Pink, falls in love amidst a fantasy Los Angeles, while an encroaching girl-gang of possible vampires lurks in the background.
But Lost Girls is far more opaque than The Bride, which was a more straightforward exploration of love's toll. As Khan said herself in an interview: "[T]here are a lot of songs where I'm not trying to be arty, I'm not trying to make it deep and multi-layered." "Feel For You" and "Peach Sky" do the story-telling most acutely; they're windswept love songs with an ethereal electronica holding them down. "Vampires," the one track pointing most directly at the album's concept, is a purely instrumental track, sounding like a Smiths song that somehow got its hands on a saxophone during a desert vision quest.
It's the more revealing songs, though, that give Lost Girls its most dramatic beats. "Jasmine," a mostly spoken-word track about a femme fatale character hunting and murdering wayward men in the Hollywood Hills, is deliciously campy in its horror, its creepiness charged by Khan's lascivious vocals. And it's that sense of contrast between yearning lyricism and heady horror sounds that Lost Girls ends up featuring. "Kids in The Dark" is a sweet ode to love opening up parts of you that you thought long-dormant, while "Desert Man" is bordering on exhaustion with romance: "It's hard to get high with you / and not go low."
"So Good" and "Safe Tonight" are nicely paired to capture the dark and light sides of infatuation. "Safe Tonight" is about a gentle, healing love, a stark juxtaposition following "So Good," on which Nikki Pink struggles with the ways she's intoxicated by an abusive lover. The album's closer, "Mountains," grounds the album with a hymn to fears of abandonment, as it captures how the end of love can render entire landscapes unfamiliar.
Lost Girls doesn't reach the story-telling heights of its predecessor, but it's still an experimental portrayal of the ways love can take up space in one's life as both a gift and a trap. The horror angle, in an odd way, ends up being the safest way for Bat for Lashes to plumb those depths, in the way good horror films do: exploring familiar, painful humanity through the lens of an unfamiliar fear.