test icicles

Album Review: Coastal Grooves - Blood Orange

Dev Hynes continues to blow my mind. As part of Test Icicles he helped play a (severely underrated) role in the birth of nu rave and proved that kids that dance can still rock hard. As Lightspeed Champion he made folk cool years before Laura Marling and Noah and the Whale (and let's not forget more interesting, as Falling Off The Lavender Bridge is still way more interesting that the Fleet Foxes). And here he is again, taking the long road home.

Hynes seems destined to make things difficult for himself - each time slotting into a slightly more oblique genre and changing his name like selling records is the last thing he wants. It's both a shame and a miracle, for he is exactly what us musos pine for: a well kept secret.

Blood Orange is, unsurprisingly, a rather different project to either of Hynes' previous incarnations. And, frustratingly for me as reviewer, it's rather difficult to describe. There are elements of post-punk, a retained country influence, an electronic edge and what feels like an oriental influence. It is also Dev Hynes' most obscure project to date. But it also might be his most interesting.

Whilst it feels instantly unrecognisable from Lightspeed Champion's honest Americana there are some similarities - 'S'Cooled', for example, may have a shuffling electronic beat a mile away from anything Hynes has used before but it still boasts the delicate guitar picking of ...Lavender Bridge.

Coastal Grooves feels more consciously produced than anything Hynes has released before but ironically it also feels more honest and exposed. The melodies feel like they bounced out of his head and the lyrics drooled out of his sleeping mouth agape even more so than before. That makes it sounds throwaway but that isn't the intention - this just feels like artist having an idea and acting on it without worrying about the listener at all. Which is refreshing.

And there are still memorable tunes - 'The Complete Knock', with it's disco influenced bridge complete with snappy guitars and a electro-inspired bridge, for example. Or 'I'm Sorry We Lied', a rapid fire blues record - insistent drums and picked out melodies like a foreign delicacy.

More than anything Coastal Grooves proves Hynes continues to care about his art and that he doesn't care if you care. But trust me, you should.

BP x

Coastal Grooves is released on Domino on Monday, available to pre-order from Amazon.co.uk on CD, LP and MP3 [affilaite links].