News / / 13.11.13




We follow Dev Hynes on Instagram. He posts regularly, always in aspect ratio, from New York City; books in the East Village, sculpture in the Met, drinks with Alexa Chung in Williamsburg. It looks great, much better than the greyness outside our window. Yet there’s something strangely staged about these images. Who is taking the photos? How do they all look so good? Hynes’ most recent record as Blood Orange suffers from a similar syndrome. It sounds so sleek, so gorgeous, but somehow lacking; somehow disingenuous. Hynes’ focus has clearly shifted since his work with Solange – he’s now writing clean pop, with his voice at centre stage. Only it seems moving away from the guitar has left his production swamped in the endless possibilities nostalgia afford. He is Prince on Uncle Ace, Serge Gainsbourg on Chosen and then A Tribe Called Quest on Clipped On. It’s as if Hynes is simply collecting vibes, lost in his own self-awareness. He doubtless remains an excellent producer, and Cupid Deluxe is often enjoyable; but closer inspection reveals a shallow, forgettable experience. Hynes is applying an Instagram filter to his album – tracks are recorded in ‘Controversy-Era Prince mode’ or ‘After-Party 1988 setting’. Imitation is important, ask any artist ever, but only in its truest form – influence, not reproduction.

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Words: Angus Harrison