The New Classic
It's amazing what you can get out of a twisted Test Icicle.
When Dev Hynes emerged almost a decade ago as one-third of slapstick punk deconstructionists Test Icicles, there was little reason to suspect he was an embryonic major talent. Nor did his folky project Lightspeed Champion suggest he was anything out of the ordinary.
Hynes found his length and his voice when he became Blood Orange and embraced 1980s-hued melancholic pop on his 2011 album Coastal Grooves, and when he dabbled in spectral R&B in collaborations with Solange Knowles and Sky Ferreira. Now, he really ups the ante.
Cupid Deluxe is a frequently astonishing album. Elusive and oblique, Hynes skims across genres like the musical magpie he has always been, engaged on a quest to locate a strange, askew beauty. The pretty, phantasmagorical No Right Thing, featuring Dirty Projectors' David Longstreth, seems to hover on the verge of silence; the anguished, atonal closing Time Will Tell could be an anthem for outsiders everywhere.
"I'm nothing if not subtle," breathes Hynes on the amorphous, brooding album opener, Chamakay. On Cupid Deluxe, he is this and much, much more besides.