REVIEW: Blood Orange – Freetown Sound

Written by on June 28, 2016

There was no way a new album from Dev Hynes wasn’t going to be political. On Freetown Sound, the man going by the moniker Blood Orange says: My album is for everyone told they’re not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way, the underappreciated. It’s a clap back.”

There’s no doubting his intention then, but the execution of political sound is a very delicate affair. The album opens with By Ourselves, a searing lecture on feminism that talks about women in a certain arena. Except, well, this piece of rhetoric has had to come to us via a man. A noble enough use of the Blood Orange platform, but the feeling of being patronised by a man is hard to shake.

But it’s a feeling quickly shaken off. Hynes has lately taken a bit more subtlety to his work (as opposed to the pop queens he’s recently produced for) and that’s certainly the case for a lot of this 17-track marathon, which at times feels like a bit of a sketchbook. There are whispers of ideas on Augustine and Chance, the latter almost taking the breathy approach of early How To Dress Well (and seriously, try shake the twin of With Him and Can’t Feel My Own Face, or But You and anything from Total Loss). It’s balanced with searing, fully-formed pop jams like Best To You and E.V.P., which take in pop and funk and jazz and throw them all into coherent triumphs.

But the indulgence witnessed in the first track rears its head again as we traverse Hynes’s thought-train, down to trite “you are special in your own way” lines. It almost feels like a B-sides and rarities collection at times, such is the lo-fi vibe in between fist-pumpers like Hadron Collider and Better Than Me; and while his PR statement might be robust, the music doesn’t have the fire of being an ally to the marginalised. Funnily enough, there’s a little poster of good old MJ up on the wall on Hynes’s album sleeve here – a little more of that fire and maybe we’d have an album that sounds as worthy as the ideas behind it.

Source: Press Play OK REVIEW: Blood Orange – Freetown Sound

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