Oh here he is again. He gets where water won't....and stop sprawling so much on the sleeve. Sit up straight man. Maybe he has good reason to be tired as this mixtape release comes just months after his previous album proper Negro Swan. So it's being marketed as a mixtape rather than an album which seems to mean that it is an addendum of sorts to his last record - a series of sketches and ideas made in the months since. There's guests such as Toro Y Moi and Porches helping out.
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So apparently Dev Hynes wasn’t even going to release this. And apparently he does a little friends and family mixtape after all his albums. Obviously, what he does with his music is up to him, but if all the other mixtapes are as good as this one… I would very much like to hear them. Please Dev? Please?
But he did release it and for that I am very grateful. ‘Negro Swan’ was without a doubt one of my favourite albums from 2018, and to be able to jump right back into the Blood Orange sonic universe so soon is an utter privilege. No one makes music quite like this (though people do try). I imagine that has something to do with Hynes’ unique trajectory from nu-rave starlet, to twee singer-songwriter, and now this.
Even after all this time it’s hard to pin down what exactly defines the Blood Orange project, despite probably being most strongly aligned with R&B. But I am certain that ‘Angel’s Pulse’ once again, shows off the best of these qualities. There’s the unpredictably productions with songs stopping and starting at will, forcing you to approach the record with an openness.
Then there’s Hynes’ skill in bringing together musicians to do very specific things. Tinashe adding a bit of glamour to ‘Tuesday Feeling (Choose To Stay)’, Kelsey Lu and Ian Isiah’s passionately duet on ‘Birmingham’, Arca doing Arca things on ‘Take It Back’. That Hynes is able to bring so many varied musicians into his world feels almost miraculous.
Finally, there’s the tenderness. Hynes demands you to be open so that he can be too. The chorus on ‘Benzo’, a track without any listed collaborators, has Hynes singing “outside, I saw where I belong”. It’s vulnerable and assured, like all of ‘Angel’s Pulse’.
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