Cupid Deluxe is the second album released by singer/songwriter Devonté Hynes, officially known as Blood Orange. After splitting with his original noise punk group, the Test Icicles, he released two folk-driven full-lengths as Lightspeed Champion, eventually settling on the moniker Blood Orange as his newest project. During his career he has also worked as a songwriter for groups like Florence + the Machine and Solange Knowles, among other artists. Cupid Deluxe is his follow up to 2011’s dancy Coastal Grooves. The influences of Cupid Deluxe clearly lie in the R&B and funk scene of
the 80s and 90s a la Prince and David Bowie, which can perhaps be explained by his strong association with Solange. The integration of these influences into the lonesome, hook-loaded album Cupid Deluxe is certainly impressive, and should not be ignored by any means.
The album kicks off with “Chamakay,” a futuristic tribal jam not dissimilar to the ambient tangents frequently explored by James Blake or Poliça. The song, which features vocal harmonies from Caroline Polachek of Chairlift, bleeds heartache and loneliness, common themes throughout the album. The smooth saxophone is also introduced as a prominent instrument, evoking images of late night cafés and rain-soaked city streets. Another highlight is the 90s R&B laced “You’re Not Good Enough,” in which Hynes’ instinct to integrate big hooks into his work is illustrated. The song then concludes with neon barroom ambiance that his gloomy sounds ceaselessly obsess over. Dave Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors makes an appearance on the rhythmic “No Right Thing,” another meditation on love lost. The seven-minute gem “Chosen,” features waves of synthizers and Hynes’ pained vocals, while “Clipped On,” proves that R&B wasn’t the only influence in the making of Cupid Deluxe by making use of strong hip-hop beats behind Blood Orange’s signature synths. “Always Let U Down” recalls the cheese of the 90s hip-hop scene by the use of the letter ‘U’ alone, and the repetition of “I can only disappoint you” vocalizes the feelings that Hynes must have felt when sculpting his haunting musical landscapes constructed from rhythmic guitar stabs and warm electronics.
Cupid Deluxe has found a great deal of critical acclaim already, Rolling Stone for example wrote a glowing review praising the album as a “force to be reckoned with.” At the same time, Hynes’ work has also caught the attention of Pitchfork, who featured him in the 2013 Pitchfork Music Festival. Lead single “You’re Not Good Enough” has found itself well-loved around Radio K as well, landing it a spot on last week’s Radio K Top 7 countdown. The countdown can be heard from 8:30 to 9:00 AM during the Rock and Roll Over specialty show.
There can be no doubt that Devonté Hynes has a promising future ahead of him. His visions, as well as his influences, are greatly diverse and unpredictable, although I will admit to seriously loving the niche that he has discovered with Blood Orange. I honestly can’t wait to see what comes next from the British singer/songwriter in his career, and I highly recommend checking him out as soon as you can. Hynes may insist that “I can only disappoint you,” but it would be a struggle not to be satisfied by Cupid Deluxe.
Written by Luke Michaels
Photo taken by Daniel Shea