Release Date: Feb 5, 2008
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
Dev Hynes, former member of London’s crash-and-burn punk outfit the Test Icicles, seems to have been turned around by Bright Eyes. On Falling Off the Lavender Bridge, his U.K.-hyped debut as Lightspeed, he borrows Conor Oberst’s producer, Mike Mogis, and cribs from his folk-majestic milieu. Alas, Hynes doesn’t share Oberst’s lyrical precocity: Falling‘s callow couplets and needless potty mouthing (”Devil Tricks for a Bitch,” ”All to S—”) can’t meet the expectations set by the lovely parade of kitchen-sink instrumentation.
Leaving the noisy terrain of the Test Icicles behind for the more relaxed territory of the singer/songwriter didn't exactly mellow Dev Hynes. For sure, the sound of his new project, Lightspeed Champion, is softer, with violins, pedal steel, and tender female vocal harmonies (sung by London folk singer Emmy the Great) among other traditional singer/songwriter favorites providing the cottony backing. Recording in Omaha with Mike Mogis (who's run the boards for loads of indie rockers, most notably Bright Eyes) and using a conglomeration of musicians from Tilly and the Wall, the Good Life, and the Faint, it would be hard to come up with a sound that didn't conjure up Bright Eyes and their ilk.
Note to those turning themselves inside out for a grand musical statement: Be articulate and compelling. On his Domino solo debut as Lightspeed Champion, Houston-born ex-Test Icicles principal Dev Hynes abandons spastic London dance-punk for the worst excesses of Saddle Creek. Recording in Omaha, Neb., with members of Bright Eyes, the Faint, and Tilly & the Wall, Hynes' shift into elaborate, string-laden indie-folk is itself a profound gesture, but repetitive melodies and inscrutable melodrama undermine the mission.