There are few 80s-born artists who can claim to have consistently
outlived outskirt-indie trends and maintained relevance, but Devonté
“Dev” Hynes is one of them.
It’s been a tumultuous ride in which even ignoring his more recent escapades as a producer for Solange and Sky Ferreira – he’s been at the
forefront of daft Day-Glo punk
(Test Icicles) and reinvented himself as an ushanka-wearing folky
While his first album under the Blood Orange moniker was ultimately a little cold to be considered a 2011 favourite,
it was another intriguing evolution; one that saw icy guitar lines cut
through absorbingly skinny arrangements.
This sophomore is a tangible next step after ‘Coastal Grooves’, but an altogether different beast that sees his rather odd path result in something far more spectacular. Orange
As Hynes’ critics had hoped, the sensitive sentiment of ‘Falling off the Lavender Bridge’ is coupled with the confidence and experimentalism of ‘Coastal Grooves’ to create a blissfully sleek world that’s both emotive and
Hynes has also enlisted some rather exceptional help here, from David Longstreth and Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek to Clams Casino and Kindess. World
beats, hot sax and the alluring coo of Polachek decorate first single ‘Chamakay’ – the blueprint for ‘Cupid Deluxe’
but Hynes somehow manages to match its heady heights consistently thereafter,
in a way that he’s struggled to previously. ‘You’re Not Good Enough’’s smooth R’n’B puts Haim’s debut in perspective,
‘Uncle Ace’ echoes Nile Rodgers and ‘Always Let U Down’ sounds
how Sean Nicholas Savage might if he developed a penchant for the
Off kilter and totally sexy, this is Dev’s most daring and distinguished work yet.
But for all the maturity, it’s nonetheless easy to see Katy B as being at a slight crossroads.
As a member of the post-everything generation, for whom access to the
darkest recesses of club culture are just as many clicks away as Beyoncé, and for whom the very idea of genre
purity is a nonsense, her affinity for Rinse and all things underground makes as much sense as her fondness for earth-conquering pop. But what is perhaps a more difficult circle to square is that the prolonged carefree
adolescence that indirectly made Brien so successful has been replaced, albeit perfectly naturally, by a youngadult introspection. “When I was working on my funky
house or whatever,” she says, earnestly, “I was thinking ‘what will make the girls really sing along to this passionately, like really connect to it’.”
Her new subject matter, though, is more pensive, and although selfreflection has proved a rich seam to mine for everyone from Madonna to Blur,
it makes for a curious and not always comfortable fit with the forward-thinking club music to which she clings so fondly.
Currently, the fact that she does cling to it makes Katy B a fascinating artist, full of contradictions and paradoxes, and a writer of terrifically addictive songs
that on closer inspection are pleasingly odd. It’s clear however that she would also make a brilliant pop singer something of which she’s perfectly aware:
“I definitely feel like I have to embrace being a pop star somehow,” she says, reluctantly. “If you’re going to do something,
you have to crack on with it properly.” Of course, it’s another matter entirely whether or not she will.
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