Release Date: Nov 19, 2013
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop, Alternative Dance, Chillwave
Devonté Hynes would be too modest and low-profile to rattle off his extensive swag list, but the London-raised, Brooklyn-based artist has dabbled in various disciplines and enjoyed a level of success enviable for any 27-year-old. About the only thing he hasn’t done, funnily enough, is find a venue and voice of his own. Despite songwriting for top-selling and Grammy award-winning outfits, Dev’s career as a frontman has been less than impactful.
The evolution of Dev Hynes is a story that needs to be told more often. From causing a ruckus in his bratty hardcore/post-punk outfit Test Icicles to wearing Davy Crockett hats and writing ornate folk tunes as Lightspeed Champion, he's one of the most versatile musicians/producers going. Blood Orange is his current project, and one that has helped him discover his calling as a producer of contemporary R&B.In 2011, he began to lay it out with his first LP, Coastal Grooves, an overlooked album that gets better with time and acted as a sketch for what was yet to come.
Every night in New York City, around 4,000 young people face the darkness without a home. Many are teens. A disproportionate amount are gay, lesbian, or transgender, shunned by their families or the world at large. Some close their eyes under trees in Central Park. Some sell sex downtown. Others go ….
Review Summary: Punch it.Cupid Deluxe, Devonté Hynes’ second offering under the Blood Orange moniker, finds the British singer-songwriter on the cusp of twenty-eight and at the point where most find themselves being forced to choose between committing their lives one way or another. Having recently relocated from Brooklyn to Manhattan, the indie pop auteur can strongly relate to that overarching sense of uncertainty as well. “A lot of [Cupid Deluxe] is about that: transitions – life transitions,” he explained in an interview with NME earlier this year.
Based on the prominence of the Air Jordan earrings and pre-ripped light-wash jeans he sports in the music video for 2011's “Dinner,” there's little doubt where Dev Hynes's muse lies. Though he's a bit of a sonic drifter, performing under various aliases since 2005 and composing/producing for Solange, Theophilus London, and Florence and the Machine, his work as Blood Orange proudly wears its affection for that mercurial era between the late '80s and early '90s, when pop, hip-hop, house, and R&B started to coexist at the top of the charts. That musical snapshot informs “Everything Is Embarrassing,” the sparse, late-night bedroom-pop anthem he co-wrote with Sky Ferreira last year, and Cupid Deluxe picks up where that track left off: Blood Orange's sophomore effort chronicles alienation and broken romance with slow, melancholic, '90s-gazing jams.
Though now in demand as a producer for the likes of Solange Knowles and MKS, Dev Hynes is still finding time to develop his shape-shifting solo career. His second album as Blood Orange (the electronic counterpart to his guitar-led Lightspeed Champion project) feels like Hynes's most assured work to date. The surface is ultra-smooth 80s R&B channelling Fleetwood Mac and Prince; beneath it lie nagging hooks and the occasional barb – a lover on You're Not Good Enough is cruelly snubbed over a gleaming disco track.
If Zoolander was an actual thing (and let’s face it, the satire probably isn’t that far out), all its characters would be playing Blood Orange’s ‘Cupid Deluxe’ to death. Its sound - and its makers - are so hot right now. But beyond the New York heritage and overwhelming loved up rejoice, Dev Hynes’ latest record is more than just something for ‘kids who can’t listen to music good’.Hynes is a chameleon.
Blood Orange is one of the most exciting producers around today. Lending his artistic hand to arguably the best single of 2012 - Solange's 'Losing You' - as well as working with the likes of MKS and Sky Ferreira, Devonté Hynes has reinvented himself as a maestro in slick and sexy offerings. Cupid Deluxe is his second album under the Blood Orange alias, following 2011's debut Coastal Grooves, which proved that Hynes had well and truly left the folk-fuelled Lightspeed Champion and noise terror of Test Icicles far behind.
Cupid Deluxe finds singer/songwriter/producer Dev Hynes back under the name Blood Orange, following his 2011 debut with this moniker, Coastal Grooves, and two albums as Lightspeed Champion. As Hynes has crossed professional paths for recordings over the past few years with The Chemical Brothers, Florence and the Machine, and Solange Knowles, to name a few, it's almost surprising that there's been time for his own material. .
After debuting his new project Blood Orange with a fairly straightforward chillwave/electro-pop album full of hooky, sexy songs that worked like a collection of great singles, Dev Hynes returned with a second album that was anything but straightforward. In fact, Cupid Deluxe is something of a hot mess. It's unfocused, sprawling, and so full of ideas that it never seems to settle in one place for very long, jumping from laid-back EDM pop to soft rock with sax balladry to '90s New Jack Swing to bleary hip-hop and back again.
Known for his work with Solange, Sky Ferreira and his varied indie-rock projects (Lightspeed Champion, Test Icicles), Devonté Hynes is a provocatively difficult dude to pigeonhole. He opens his second album as Blood Orange like he's the Weeknd's less-stoned brother: "Chamakay" is a lush, dubby R&B joint led by what could be a giant kalimba, capped off with a tease of saxophone. Then it's antsy funk with traces of Talking Heads and Chic ("You're Not Good Enough"), jazzy choral soul ("Chosen"), and an Eighties Quiet Storm jam with Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth and hip-hop eclectic Clams Casino ("No Right Thing").
He’s the guy with a hand in two of last year’s greatest gifts to the pop world – Solange’s ‘Losing You’ and Sky Ferreira’s ‘Everything Is Embarrassing’ – so perhaps it’s no surprise that Devonté Hynes’ second solo album is collab-heavy. The follow-up to the New York-based producer’s ‘Coastal Grooves’ in 2011, ‘Cupid Deluxe’ features a crew of his hipster mates, including Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth, Friends’ Samantha Urbani, Clams Casino, Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek and Kindness, who help unpick attitudinal ’80s R&B, smoove shoulder-pad soul and ’70s soft rock licks and put it back together in his lo-fi image. In theory, it’s a winning mix.
Dev Hynes has blown up since he released his last album as Blood Orange, 2011’s Coastal Grooves. Interestingly, he’s attracted praise for his work as a producer, not as a solo artist. “It was a weak year for up-the-middle melodies and sugar,” wrote The New Yorker’s Sasha Frere-Jones about 2012, but he listed two Hynes-produced tracks—along with the Carly Rae Jepsen juggernaut “Call Me Maybe”—as the exception to this rule.
Over his career, Dev Hynes has remained on top of current music trends. In 2004, while he was living in London, he joined the laughably titled outfit Test Icicles, which churned out aggressive but fun songs in line with the dance-punk movement of the time. Later, as Lightspeed Champion, he blended indie pop with earnest folk from 2007 to 2010. Dropping that moniker, Hynes began recording music as Blood Orange, with hazy, ‘80s-inspired production and ambient, reverb-heavy guitars.
For the strutting, voguing children of the Harlem Drag Ball scene, featured in Jennie Livingston's documentary Paris Is Burning, the fantasy was not just about spotlights and trophies. It was about getting closer to the lifestyles that were off limits: the business exec, the spoilt suburban housewife, the college prep. The dressing up wasn't pantomime or parody; it was a sincere attempt at simulation, a life in pursuit of the elusive concept of 'realness'.
Devonté Hynes, aka Blood Orange, doesn’t care how cool or uncool we think he is. He doesn’t care what we think, actually. It’s no wonder then that his recent video for the piano-studded, heartbreak hotel number, Time Will Tell, features him dressed in all white, dancing wildly, even awkwardly, in a bare studio alone. To make it perfectly clear that your opinion doesn’t matter, comments are off (in fact, comments are off on all videos under Hynes’ YouTube account).
As much as I still enjoy what recorded output we do have from Dev Hynes’ two major projects to date, I still can’t quite shake the feeling that both already sound a little bit of their time, as it were; perhaps even a little dated. Test Icicles’ For Screening Purposes Only remains a record that I have an awful lot of time for, but that slightly off-kilter, rhythmically diffuse brand of ‘dance-punk’ (a term that in itself screams mid-noughties) was very flash in the pan; it doesn’t feel all that contemporary any more. I liked Lightspeed Champion, too, but the second LP that Hynes put out under that moniker – the snappily-titled Life Is Sweet! Nice to Meet You – already sounded as if he was struggling for inspiration or engagement with the folk-tinged aesthetic that had characterised the excellent Falling Off the Lavender Bridge.
Last week, the British style magazine Dazed & Confused quoted Devonté Hynes as saying that none of the songs he’d apparently been asked to write for Britney Spears’ upcoming album had made the cut. Too bad. This is a modal window. As demonstrated by his recent work with Sky Ferreira, Solange and the English girl group MKS -- all of whom have moved through a number of styles on their way to music they present as truth -- Hynes the collaborator specializes in facilitating self-discovery (or at least its illusion).
opinion bySAMUEL TOLZMANN Whether we realize it or not, we’ve been listening to the music of certified triple threat Devonte Hynes for a long time – as a producer, a songwriter for the likes of Florence Welch and the Chemical Brothers, as one member of third-string dance-punk act Test Icicles and only member of third-string folk-rock act Lightspeed Champion. 2012, however, was undeniably his champagne year, when we reached a Devonte Hynes critical mass with Solange’s True and Sky Ferreira’s “Everything Is Embarrassing,” both co-written and produced by Hynes. Neither Solange nor Ferreira stormed the scene with Hynes’s songs; rather, they tip-toed in politely and then proceeded to work toward popular ubiquity.
In its most finely wrought form, melodrama elevates unflattering feelings—teenage stuff, the messy adolescent sludge of yearning, heartbreak, unspoken desires—to something more respectable by lending them the better light of a cinematic, big budget sheen. The strongest musical example in recent memory is M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (2011), a double LP’s worth of Technicolor-bright, heartracing melodrama seemingly repulsed by the idea of emotional nuance, and all the better for it. But on the white gold throne where M83’s Anthony Gonzalez once basked in a deep v and sparkly Euro jeans, a new reigning king of masterful pop melodrama sits: raise a glass of pinot grigio to Blood Orange and his Cupid Deluxe, for he has risen, indeed.
“I want to try everything in the world,” Devonté Hynes told The New York Times, and it shows. In just under a decade, he’s moved from dance-punk (with Test Icicles) to Saddle Creek-styled folk-pop (as Lightspeed Champion) to 80s-facing R&B-new wave mutations (as Blood Orange on Coastal Grooves). With Cupid Deluxe, he’s onto his next set of toys.
The work of Devonté Hynes radiates a thorough, passionate, forgetting-to-eat-or-sleep love for the last 30 years of pop. His current project, Blood Orange, is a trans-Atlantic notion of urban dance music from the early ‘80s to the early ‘90s: freestyle, Prince ballads, Janet Jackson’s .