17 Jul 2016

Blood Orange / Freetown Sound (album review)

Dev Hynes, rising from Ilford to being one of the most respected producers currently working, brings Blood Orange’s third full length album, Freetown Sound, a feat in collaboration and soundscape.

While maintaining a sound familiar to that of Coastal Grooves and Cupid Deluxe, Freetown Sound seems rather more purposeful, more forceful, not only in its coherency, but also its message, with Hynes himself saying the album is a culmination of his experience of racial tensions in today’s political climate.

Hynes’ collaboration is apparent on FS, with the swelling polyphony of the opening track By Ourselves preparing the listener for the showcase of singers and overlapping melodies they are about to year. Yet this is by no means to suggest Hynes overly relies on the talents of other musicians, with his artistic control being plain to see throughout. This is a technique familiar to Hynes, having as illustrious a writing and producing discography as his own solo one, with his style and skill being showcased in Sky Ferreira’s Everything is Embarrassing, putting her too on the map for breaking out of hyper-produced teen pop into hyper-produced, but greatly acclaimed synthpop.

Freetown Sound is undoubtedly the most beautiful album I have heard all year, with tracks such as Augustine, Chance and But You rivalling the beauty even of that of Champagne Coast, from Blood Orange’s first album. There is a soul, and life to the album, punctuated by samples of conversation, used most commonly in albums as interludes, yet these themselves are used in FS as yet another layer, cutting through the synth and digital beats with true life, giving humanity to what otherwise may have been rather cold in its finality.

The album is clearly a statement by Hynes, not only of his musical prowess, but of the cultural that has made him, done so in a collaboration of sounds, coherent, yet occasionally so multiple that they become somewhat muddled.


Words: Gabriel Cox