Published on September 2nd, 2011 | by Lisa McInerney0
Album Review: Coastal Grooves by Blood Orange
Let me make this instantly, unequivocally clear: you’ll have read more objective reviews in your time. I have come to Blood Orange’s Coastal Grooves pre-convinced that Dev Hynes is a musical hero. If I could replicate his fidgety creativity in a my own literary endeavours, I would be a scribe fulfilled.
Dev Hynes doesn’t sit still. He plays around with music. He chases sounds and pins them down and then bounds for the next target. He’s best known as Lightspeed Champion, but Dev’s latest project, Blood Orange, isn’t just a side venture, taken to knit various half-songs together until it’s time to start recording seriously again. Coastal Grooves is a fantastic album from start to finish: tight, cohesive and compelling. It’s not a sidenote on Dev’s discography.
Lo-fi funk with an understated cool, Coastal Grooves is an album for late-night chilling and headphone grooving. There’s a dash of oriental influence, a little Ennio Morricone, an ironic nod, here and there, to early electro, but all subtle and statement-free. Opener Forget It is fantastic: bittersweet and catchy and gently unsettling, Dev’s main sentiment – “I am not your saviour” – delivered somewhere between plaintive bleat and gossamer sneer. S’Cooled is funky and pleasingly seedy. Instantly Blank (The Goodness) and The Complete Knock are characterised by low-key yearning and that knack for stirring melody we’ve come to expect from Mr. Hynes. Champagne Coast is dreamy, delicate and effortlessly gorgeous. But best of the lot is Sutphin Boulevard, reminiscent of 80s electrosleaze, a little Soft Cell, a little Bryan Ferry, a delicious, dirty earworm.
While I was convinced, before listening to Coastal Grooves, that my existing love for Dev Hynes would endear me to it, I was expecting it to be less accomplished than his Lightspeed Champion output. I’m not surprised by the quality in his Blood Orange incarnation – how slick the grooves, how toe-tapping the melodies – but I’m pleasantly surprised to be able to list it alongside Lightspeed Champion in my favourite modern sounds. Dev’s done it again. And long may he continue!
Coastal Grooves by Blood Orange is available now, on Domino records.