Published Nov 08, 2013The evolution of Dev Hynes is a story that needs to be told more often. From causing a ruckus in his bratty hardcore/post-punk outfit Test Icicles to wearing Davy Crockett hats and writing ornate folk tunes as Lightspeed Champion, he's one of the most versatile musicians/producers going. Blood Orange is his current project, and one that has helped him discover his calling as a producer of contemporary R&B.
In 2011, he began to lay it out with his first LP, Coastal Grooves, an overlooked album that gets better with time and acted as a sketch for what was yet to come. Since its release, Hynes has found phenomenal success as a songwriter/producer, scoring hits with Solange, Sky Ferreira and English girl group Mutya Keisha Siobhan (he's also been rumoured to be working with Britney Spears). But he's saved his greatest achievement yet for himself.
With Cupid Deluxe, Hynes has revealed his exquisite vision, one that swells with inspiration from his various collaborators. On lead single "Chamakay," Hynes explores his Guyanese roots, roping in Chairlift's Caroline Polachek for an irresistibly feather-light duet, and builds a true quiet storm with Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth and Clams Casino on "No Right Thing." Hynes also uses the album to illuminate some undiscovered talent: NYC MC Despot drops some bars on the intimate "Clipped On," which hints that hip-hop could be next on his production agenda, and gives Friends vocalist Samantha Urbani the spotlight on "Always Let U Down," his reworking of "I Can Only Disappoint U" by defunct Brit-prog weirdoes Mansun.
But no matter how much his guests shine on the new LP, there's no denying Hynes could've pulled off Cupid Deluxe on his own — his heart and soul is all over this record. Over the years, Hynes has continually demonstrated his dexterity as a versatile songwriter and producer, and on Cupid Deluxe, he's outdone himself. (Domino)