Scholars of the future will have fun tracking Dev Hynes’s movements through musical history. Like a hipster Doctor Who, he keeps appearing at the heart of different genres, sticking his sonic screwdriver into the mechanics of ironic punk (with first band Test Icicles), featherlight indie-pop (as Lightspeed Champion) and now retro disco and R&B under the name Blood Orange.
However, after a restless first 27 years of life, the former Londoner has now settled in New York, and made new pals including Samantha Urbani – the lead singer of Brooklyn band Friends, who features prominently on this record. NYC’s passion, openness and penchant for funky basslines are all over ‘Cupid Deluxe’, contributing to an air of worldly-wise cool. ‘No one’s waiting for you anyway, so don’t be stressed now,’ Hynes warbles with great feeling on ‘It Is What It Is’.
You only need to witness his slinky moves in the video for album opener ‘Chamakay’ to see that Dev has learned to dance like nobody’s watching. That track’s breezy, tropical warmth and world music mysticism are carried across the LP, and mix wonderfully with the US influences: particularly Prince’s taut pop and Peter Gordon’s groundbreaking orchestral disco. The sheer number of influences contributing to ‘Cupid Deluxe’ suggest he’s not quite fully settled, but this is easily Hynes’s most honest album to date.
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