Blood Orange: Cupid Deluxe- Producer Dev Hynes’ newest album Cupid Deluxe, recorded under the name Blood Orange, is truly a torrential downpour of soulful introspection. Encompassing a similar mood throughout the entire album, it is consistent yet unpredictable. It’s a little bit of hip hop, a splash of funk and jazz, and a tidal wave of synth electronica all culminating into an album that makes you want to shake your hips and dance while crying into a pint of ice cream. It’s not surprising that a man who is defined as a songwriter, producer, author, singer, and composer, would also manage to put out an album this schizophrenically sincere. The album is characterized by electronica, follows classical composition, is a barrage of collaboration and yet it is so simple you don’t even realize it happened until it’s over.
Never heard of Hynes? Think again. He is the man behind artists such as Florence and the Machine and The Chemical Brothers. However, Cupid Deluxe sounds absolutely nothing like either of these bands. Being a producer, Hynes has collaborated with a variety of musicians and was successful in creating an album which is marked by many styles and yet transitions from track to track with incredible fluidity and effortlessness. The first time I listened to the album from start to finish it felt like I had taken a breath and suddenly it was over. Written over a four-year period, it’s the kind of album that wreaks of blood, sweat, and tears—and talent.
The album opens up with the track ‘Chamakay,’ featuring Caroline Polachek of Chairlift, a subtle yet impactful opening song. ‘Chamakay’ falls into the genre of new wave but is tinged with tones of an 80’s love ballad. The arrangement is flawless and lovely comprised of the harmonious overlapping of Polachek and Hynes voices. The song strikes a sad, nostalgic note but maintains a steady beat distinguishing itself as more than a love ballad.
‘Not Good Enough’ is refreshingly honest with lyrics like “I never was in love/you know that you were never good enough.” It’s catchy and arranged as a pop melody but approaches the genre of a love song from a new angle. The song is effortless and has a seductive quality relative to the sounds of the band The XX. After listening to this song a few times I found myself singing the chorus everywhere, reflecting on all the times I felt I’d loved someone. My favorite quality of the whole album is that in every song the music is matched with the lyrics in a way which really hones in on one though or emotion. Unlike other music that is so sensitive, Hynes taps into the genius of jazz and electronica making it music that isn’t lonely. I would listen to this by myself on a train and play it at a party.
‘Uncle Ace’ sounds like Party Monster and the New York City night life in the late 80’s. It has a funky beat and jazz influences meanwhile the singing is extremely sassy and breathless at times. It’s the kind of song that makes me want to lazily shuffle my feet across a dance floor and sway back and forth.
‘High Street’ is my favorite track on the album. Featuring Hynes rapping, he tells the story of his life, hearing his songs on the radio for the first time, reflecting on how he go to where he is now, and what it was like getting there. The music is darker than the other songs and less relaxed. It has a ghastly tone including Hynes’ rap which hangs on the fringe of the beat with every verse. Minor chords of a piano alongside a synth fade out the song without any real sign of an ending.
‘Cupid Deluxe’ is extraordinary. The songwriting is deep and sensitive while the music is catchy and complex. It is a revival of jazz and funk compositions, twining old music stylings with new in an effortless way. This album certainly distinguishes Hynes from the pop genre he is most known for and has a quality that is certainly unique. I think this is an album that will slowly rise to the top and Hynes as it exemplifies Hynes individual style and capabilities in creating new genres. It’s just the beginning for this guy folks… 10/10