Artist of the week: Blood Orange
Not to say that Test Icicles or Lightspeed Champion were second-rate projects, but the transformation in sound, visuals and feel that Devonté Hynes went through in the final of the last decade will be forever remembered in the history of pop. Blood Orange is not only the name of his new musical incarnation, definitely more focused on 80’s flavored R&B and electronica, but also of one of the most sophisticated and successful approaches ever made by popular culture to politics of race, gender and sexual identity.
The influence of Blood Orange can hardly be measured by the critical and popular appraisal of 2011’s Coastal Grooves and 2013’s Cupid Deluxe. Though both are great records, Dev Hynes left his mark mostly by writing and producing stellar songs to mostly female artists such as Solange, Sky Ferreira, Florence & The Machine, Kyle Minogue and Jessie Ware but also to huge dance acts such as The Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx.
The new Freetown Sound is a complex tapestry of 17 songs haunted by voices of a cast of characters that struggle to feel accepted because of who they are and represent. Musically, the whole thing is immaculate: it feels like a mixtape, but if flows like pristine sounds directly emanated by one of today’s most unique minds in pop music. In a year already filled with so many great records, Blood Orange has proved that there is always room for awe and improvement.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.