Blood Orange

Freetown Sound

Domino

Jul 01, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Having had multiple previous incarnations as part of Test Icicles and Lightspeed Champion, Dev Hynes is a man of many musical faces. But it appears that his now three album old Blood Orange moniker is to be a welcome permanent fixture in the modern music consciousness. 2013 breakthrough record Cupid Deluxe wooed the listener into an enamoured fixation with a perfect blend of '80s-inflected R&B, funk, and soul. Hynes proved his own ability as a multi-instrumentalist but also his own good choice of collaborators, having called upon Chairlift's Caroline Polachek, Clams Casino, and Kindness to name but three of several guest appearances. These two qualities return full-force on Freetown Sound, which seamlessly continues where Cupid Deluxe finished.

Inspiration-wise, Freetown Sound is rich with '70s funk and disco yet glistens with the sheen of '80s synths. Samples at the beginning and end of many of the tracks are akin to those found on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, an artist whom Hynes has made known his admiration for. Indeed, both the lyrics and the samples on Freetown Sound approach the same issues that come with being a black man in a white man's world that are a focal point in Lamar's work. It is the concepts of race and gender that form much of the album's narrative. The sample on "With Him" is one of these powerful moments, and is one of several short intermediary tracks on the LP that contributes to a vibrant collage aesthetic.

Hynes has talked of how he favors the female voice and as a result the majority of his collaborators are women, from the superstars to the talented underground. Nelly Furtado plays the perfect counterpart to Hynes' own breathy vocal on "Hadron Collider," while Atlanta poet Ashlee Haze performs her piece "For Colored Girls (The Missy Elliott Poem)" to poignant effect on opener "By Ourselves." It is Hynes' ability to use such a variety of guest artists to complement, rather than overpower, his own work that is major factor in Freetown Sound's victory. When coupled with a powerful message and masterful vocal and instrumental arrangements, the result is Dev Hynes best work under any of his musical guises. (www.bloodorange.nyc)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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