★★★ Negro Swan DOMINO. CD/DL/LP Maverick UK producer/ composer revisits familiar themes on fourth album.
Creatively impish, skittish and impatient, Dev Hynes’s soaring trajectory since punky noise merchants Test Icicles has seen a restless shredding of musical styles and off-the-wall collaborations (Skepta, Kylie, The Chemical Brothers). Almost randomly pushing at the same buttons on race, oppression and sexuality as 2016’s Freetown Sound, and with a broadly similar mixtape aesthetic, his fourth Blood Orange outing pits Hynes’s tremulously fragile falsetto against repackaged ’70s funk, ’80s Prince-lite R&B and skewed pop (Charcoal Baby, Orlando). While duets with a drawly Puff Daddy and singsongy A$AP Rocky are rare misfires, real magic arrives via spirited cameos from Ian Isiah, Steve Lacy and in the soulful laidback purr of Georgia Anne Muldrow (on jazzy lovers hymnal Runnin’). For all that, Negro Swan is more consolidation than the next great leap forwards.
Dev Hynes gives Blood Orange another squeeze.