Blood Orange
Cupid Deluxe


4.0
excellent

Review

by Irving Tan STAFF
December 5th, 2013 | 81 replies | 15,991 views


Release Date: 11/12/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Punch it.

Cupid Deluxe, Devonté Hynes’ second offering under the Blood Orange moniker, finds the British singer-songwriter on the cusp of twenty-eight and at the point where most find themselves being forced to choose between committing their lives one way or another. Having recently relocated from Brooklyn to Manhattan, the indie pop auteur can strongly relate to that overarching sense of uncertainty as well. “A lot of [Cupid Deluxe] is about that: transitions – life transitions,” he explained in an interview with NME earlier this year. “Moving from a stable position to an unstable position – something we’ve all been through.”

To that end, it’s easy to view Cupid Deluxe as a direct response to growing pains, but to do so would be to do it a disservice, for the album is also the narrative of a young mind attempting to comprehend the vagaries of human interaction. Hynes knows that if you’ve been around the block for long enough, the concept of finding a good, lasting relationship can start to seem like a myth – a script made purely for television audiences. Cupid Deluxe’s eleven tracks are built around the aim of tearing that legend down: amidst smoky grooves and gripping saxophone solos, Hynes ruminates at length about losing yet another person who could have been the one – “Are you the one who breaks my heart out of my chest?” he wonders aloud on album highlight “Chamakay”. Even the record’s title and its cover are indicative: a faceless person stares out at us from behind a mask of kitschy make-up and a shock of (fake?) golden hair – a modern manifestation of the Greek God of Love. The resulting effigy is disturbing enough to just about distract us from the image’s true centerpiece: the wisp of pubic hair cheerfully peeking out from under a corner of that pale blue underwear. Now, is there anyone out there who could love this?

Sonically, Cupid Deluxe shows a more expansive palate than 2011’s Coastal Grooves, but still retains the pop sensibilities that Hynes has showcased since his days as Lightspeed Champion. Synthesizer patterns come and go like they are being shunted through a revolving door, while deft changes in the songs’ chord progression work to keep interest levels high. But while Hynes used to rely heavily on his hooks to keep his narrative flowing, he’s now more focused on creating a singular atmosphere that permeates throughout the entirety of the record and persists from start to finish. In addition, the album also features a great many guest appearances, including performances from David Longstreth (Dirty Projectors), Caroline Polachek (Chairlift), Samantha Urbani (Friends), Clams Casino, Despot, and Adam Bainbridge, just to name a few. But while there’s always a danger of oversaturation with so many cooks tending the broth, Hynes’ vocal presence is itself a singular, evocative combination of soul, R&B, and funk that manages to bind everything together under a central thesis, resulting in an album that both ebbs and flows like a well-paced novel.

Things get underway with the stormy, never-ending heartbreak of “Chamakay”, which sees Hynes and Chairlift’s Polachek serving up the kind of climactic call-and-response vocal that lingers in the back of one’s mind for days. Then comes the scintillating “You’re Not Good Enough”, which opens with a funk-influenced sample that I can only assume was meant to be used on the dancefloor, but has since been converted to some sort of pity anthem. “I never was in love/You know that you were never good enough,” sighs Hynes from deep down in the mix, and you can’t help but feel sorrier for him than you are for the person that he has just spurned. The rotating skitter-hop of “Uncle ACE” is next, and as one of the few numbers to not feature any guest appearances, it relies heavily on Hynes’ choice of texture in order to see it through. Thankfully though, the song’s twinkling guitar play and closing chord sequence quickly reveal themselves to be one of Cupid Deluxe’s most progressive moments, and any irregularities present are quickly balanced out with a series of methodical, spacious, and textured arrangements that recall the sultry magnificence of Submotion Orchestra’s Finest Hour. The tense mid-album appearance of “Always Let U Down” in turn deviously appropriates one of texting’s most casually-used abbreviations to disguise an examination of the sense of helplessness that comes with being unable to deal with the expectations of others. Finally, album closer “Time Will Tell” yields one of Cupid Deluxe’s most experimental moments: the song itself was recorded live in a single 15-minute take, with Hynes casually ad-libbing the vocals based on an earlier number by Adam Bainbridge. The track is by no means one of Hynes’ more exquisite moments, but it acts as the perfect comedown after forty-five minutes of riotous highs and restless lows.

Cupid Deluxe is not an imperfect record, but it is still a powerful reminder of how grossly underrated Dev Hynes is as an artist in his own right. His ability to conjure up an album as assured as this, seemingly out of nowhere, makes it seem criminal that the bulk of his work is typically done in collaboration with other like-minded, but not similar, artists. It remains to be seen where Hynes will go from here, but it’s tempting to hope that we’ll be talking about him again sooner rather than later.




Recent reviews by this author
Linkin Park The Hunting PartyColdplay Ghost Stories
Caleb McAlpine All Things NewAngel Olsen Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Eternal Summers The Drop BeneathYuna Nocturnal
user ratings (105)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 5th 2013



7140 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This review is, in many ways, an expression of my disappointment at this album not being able to rank as high as I hoped it would in this year's Staff year end feature.

And on that note, I think this will be my last review for 2013 as well, as I am going to be devoting my energies to the Staff year end feature (and my real-life job!) from here on out...in addition, there's really not a lot of awesome releases around this time of year too. In any case, it's been an amazing year for music down my end, and I hope yours has been equally as epic (if not more so).

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Sputnikers; as always, thank you for your patronage and look forward to seeing you in our end of year feature!! Please vote on the User's List if you haven't already! (PS - Yuna is awesome)

MortimusPrime
December 5th 2013



2968 Comments


"2011’sCoastal Grooves"

"scintillating“You’re Not Good "

use the spacebar man.

Digging: Gaza - No Absolutes in Human Suffering

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 5th 2013



7140 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah man, freaking Ms Word messed up my document so bad ughhh.

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
December 5th 2013



3342 Comments


really well written but you're missing a couple spaces here and there, might want to fix that

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 5th 2013



7140 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ugh you guys are brutal haha. I've only posted this for like two minutes. Anyway, like I said, my word processor somehow decided to arbitrarily declare war on some of my spaces for some reason. Think I've purged them all now.

Calc
December 5th 2013



11991 Comments


"(PS - Yuna is awesome)"

I second this

Digging: Kashiwa Daisuke - April. #02

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
December 5th 2013



6361 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool album.

Digging: Shackleton - Deliverance Series No. 1

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 5th 2013



14986 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

thought this album was pretty cool but i honestly like his collaborative work with other artists more oop

robin
Emeritus
December 5th 2013



4241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this album RULESSSSSS

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 5th 2013



7140 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'LL NEVER LEAVE YOU IF YOU'RE THINKING THAT IT'S ALL THE SAME

=3

SeaAnemone
December 5th 2013



19727 Comments


*expressing enthusiastic interest in this!!!*

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

henryChinaski
December 5th 2013



2685 Comments


Yeah this is pretty great.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
December 5th 2013



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

he's good

witchxrapist
December 5th 2013



10934 Comments


BLOOD ORANGES IS BETTER SORRY

PA REPRESENT

570 STRUGGLE

blegh

Digging: Stray From the Path - Our Oceania

breakingthefragile
December 5th 2013



2943 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Musically, I love this, I think the bass lines are great and refreshing to hear in this genre. What kills this album for me however is Dev Hynes' voice, I want to like this album more because I can tolerate it on Chamakay, but on everything else he can be so gratingly whiny.

Digging: Glassjaw - Everything You Ever Wanted To Know...

Samus27
December 5th 2013



1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I agree with most of the sentiments stated in this review. However, I find parts of it to be
excessively wordy and lacking substance. "for the album is also the narrative of a young mind
attempting to comprehend the vagaries of human interaction" to me says nearly nothing. After all,
isn't that what most music is about? This album is particularly literally commenting on these notions,
but it wears that on its sleeves through its song titles and lyrics.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
December 5th 2013



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

"This review is, in many ways, an expression of my disappointment at this album not being able to rank as high as I hoped it would in this year's Staff year end feature."

You were aiming too high with your expectations Irving. It was never gonna be #1. Just take it being #5 & be pleased with that.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 5th 2013



7140 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^ Lmao. Cue the flurry of resubmissions for Jom's contest.

XD

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 5th 2013



7140 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@samus27: Probably a bit unfair that you chose to excise the first half of that sentence in your criticism (mainly as that's the operative phrase that gives a greater meaning to the second half), but ok - noted. Gotta learn to steer clear of those in future.

EaglesBecomeVultures
December 5th 2013



5192 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is kinda charming my pants off right now

Digging: Merchandise - After The End



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy