Blood Orange

‘Free­town Sound’

Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Audiosyncracy -

“FREE­TOWN Sound,” the lat­est from Devonté Hynes A.K.A. Blood Orange, is a fas­ci­nat­ing 17-track al­bum ap­prox­i­mat­ing an AM ra­dio sound col­lage of yore, pop hits blend­ing with break­ing news bul­letins and his­tory cap­sules.

Hynes, who was in dance-punk band Test Ici­cles in home­town Lon­don be­fore re­lo­cat­ing to New York and re­leas­ing ma­te­rial as Light­speed Cham­pion, says his third al­bum as Blood Orange “plays like a long mix­tape.”

For­tu­nately, he never lets the eclec­ti­cism of the mu­si­cal or spo­ken-word sam­ples (Wally Badarou, Ta-Ne­hisi Coates, Mantronix or Charles Min­gus, to name a few) or the long list of mostly fe­male guests like Nelly Fur­tado, Deb­bie Harry or Lorely Ro­driguez get in the way of strong hooks, cap­ti­vat­ing top­ics and skill­ful multi-lay­ered ar­range­ments.

Hynes’ pol­i­tics are both gen­eral and per­sonal, ex­am­in­ing “who I am at this point in life” while fre­quently de­pict­ing the wider pic­ture.

Free­town, Sierra Leone, is his fa­ther’s birth­place; “Juicy 1-4” ref­er­ences slav­ery and “Hands Up” is that news bul­letin too close to home, ad­vis­ing you to “keep your hood off when you’re walk­ing.”

Other high­lights in­clude “Hadron Col­lider,” cowrit­ten and per­formed with Fur­tado; the P.M. Dawn­like soar­ing vo­cals of “Au­gus­tine” and its em­pathic take on race re­la­tions; the pure pop of “Best to You” with Ro­driguez (who records as Em­press Of); and the sax-driven heart­break of “Squash Squash.”

The­mat­i­cally frag­mented and mu­si­cally co­he­sive, Blood Orange deftly ex­plores the signs of the times on “Free­town Sound,” in­ter­pret­ing what’s go­ing on both in and around us. It’s a very 2016 al­bum that should with­stand the test of time. (PABLO GORONDI/As­so­ci­ated Press)

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