Blood Orange: Negro Swan (Domino) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, April 13th, 2024  

Blood Orange

Negro Swan


Aug 27, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

What exactly is wrong with Devonté Hynes? On paper, he appears to have all the makings of a pop genius. He is a musical chameleon, comfortable working with pop stars, rock bands, and modern classical composers. His music successfully tackles profound topics, from mental health to racial inequality. And his music videos are artful and visually stunning. But somehow, seemingly against the odds, his work as Blood Orange has never quite come together.

On 2016’s Freetown Sound, Hynes created a beautiful melting pot of soul, jazz, and New Wave, but the songwriting often felt directionless and unsubstantial. It certainly didn’t help that many of Hynes’ best songs, such as the shimmering “Losing You” for Solange, were written with other artists. Negro Swan looked like it might correct this, judging by a beautiful lead single, but old problems remain on this record, which promises much but feels strangely unsatisfying.

While Blood Orange’s last record took on heavy topics-namely the state of race relations in Americathis new album looks inwards to personal development. Transgender rights activist Janet Mock appears prominently throughout as a motivating voice and a central theme of hope appears across these songs. Sonically, Hynes continues to elegantly blend his influences. For example, “Nappy Wonder” is a piece of minimalist funk-rock and “Chewing Gum” is a heavenly-peaceful take on trap.

Nevertheless, old habits die hard and Hynes’ songwriting can still feel rough and unstructuredit doesn’t seem like just a rhetorical flourish that he calls these songs “pieces.” His vocals also continue to have a disappointingly boyish tone and although he has improved at writing songs which complement his voice, the album’s weakest moments are still when Hynes’ vocals are put front and center, such as with the odd emo-styled “Take Your Time.” Towards the back-end of the album, tracks are still liable to drift into the background and for all the talk of self-expression on Negro Swan, many of its songs are surprisingly conservative musically. As with Freetown Sound, the atmosphere may be stirring, but individual moments can be unmemorable.

That said, Negro Swan does have more highlights than its predecessors. Lead single “Charcoal Baby” and “Orlando” are gorgeous examples of synth-soul, while “Hope” with guest vocalist Tei Shi sounds like FKA twigs doing traditional R&B. These moments are not significantly different in sound to the rest of Negro Swan but they feel more fully developed than the album’s other tracks.

By the end of this record, it is very easy to be left in a peculiar position of being effusive about the vision and principles behind it, while having misgivings about its execution. The ambition of Negro Swan calls to mind the vignette style of Frank Ocean’s Endless and the conceptual vision of Solange’s A Seat at the Table, but such comparisons only reveal how much sharper Hynes’ writing needs to be. If we could hear the music inside his head; maybe it would make good on the promise of this album. For now, Blood Orange remains an artist who flirts with greatness but frustratingly continues to fall short. (

Author rating: 7/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 7/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

August 30th 2018

Strong, all-customary shake, and square pavers are normally used to make an extra charming outside space. An enhancing number of private and present day property proprietors are making use of pavers to manufacture garages, yard area spaces, and routes in their porches. Check out feral hog removal dallas for more details. Keep scrutinizing to bring in additional as for the patio pavers arrange musings, materials and style thoughts that are offered by an extensive measure of scene layout business.

bokep indo
September 4th 2018

An enhancing number of private and present day property proprietors are making use of pavers to manufacture garages, yard area spaces, and routes in their porches.
check out bokep terbaru

September 6th 2018

Whatever. Devonté Hynes’s music is still awesome and great to enjoy. I ‘ve replayed his songs thousand times hotmail. Absolutely my cup of tea.

sucar 15
December 16th 2018

Mylowes has been controlled and regulated by the Lowes, a lowes employee login company which oversees a network of just one, 900 retail stores do it yourself applications as well as also others.

gmail login
October 8th 2019

very nice information you share with us. thanks for this.

Ryan B Abraham
March 18th 2020

I am very happy to see this post. Thanks for sharing the list of music. I am a music lover. The list of music is wonderful. I enjoyed a lot. Thanks for giving the most amazing songs for us. And I am waiting for more updates.