Blood Orange
Negro Swan


3.5
great

Review

by neekafat USER (49 Reviews)
September 14th, 2018 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No interpretation necessary.

I’m sure it’s a cliche to describe Negro Swan as “dreamy,” but it’s the first word for Blood Orange’s latest release, even if it's not the perfect one. In fact, “dreaming” is the first word we hear from Dev Hynes lips on opener “Orlando,” a track which convincingly presents an attractive soundscape of city life, filtered through hazy R’n’B with jazzy and funky leanings. It encapsulates the album at it’s best; electrifying and soothing at once, filled to the brim with ideas and sounds, directly concentrated in calming the listener's anxieties while at the same time challenging them. Because while R’n’B may be rooted in smoothness, relaxation isn’t the first thing on Hynes’ mind.

In fact, his message is rather distractingly plastered all about the album. Interviews with transgender personality Janet Mock slip in every crack of this record, hiding at the end of the songs, in interludes, and slapped in the middle of tracks at seemingly random moments. These monologues reveal clever and important insights into how someone who might normally feel like an outsider can be at home in society through their own devices, but none of them feel particularly necessary by the end of the album. These points are already made clear through the music and in the lyrics; the album is called Negro Swan for crying out loud. The countless outros and interludes serve only to make the themes even more obvious, while simulataneously distracting from and even undermining the music, such as on “Jewelry,” which feels like several interludes haphazardly fused together with a topic rather than competent songwriting.

That isn’t to say that Hynes isn’t talented. The atmospheres presented here are often unique, drawing from disparate influences to create something truly warm and inviting, even when the album bridges filler territory with standard R’n’B cuts like “Dagenham Dream” and “Nappy Wonder.” The hazy sounds mesh effortlessly with his floating vocals, which take on an androgynous quality that offers another distinctive sound from the record. Still, his voice doesn’t always sound truly natural in this state. There are times when it feels like a desired effect, something being strained for rather than a happy accident. Come to think of it, a lot of the album feels like it’s reaching for another voice. Whether it be in him hopping around different vocal stylings rather than settling into one that’s uniquely and naturally his, or in hiding behind Mock’s analogous perceptions, thus allowing her to become the main thematic voice on his own record.

Regardless, it shouldn’t be said that Negro Swan is ineffective as a statement. Blunt, yes, but it’s assured in its own way. What frustrates is merely that it seems to be stretching toward a dreamlike sound that might entrance the listener into itself so that they’d be subliminally left susceptible to its ideas and movements. Because what makes dreams so alluring is their ambiguity. Searching for a message to interpret where you aren’t even sure there is one. Maybe thats why this only feels like half a dream. Half asleep, and half painfully awake.

Sometimes, we should let the music speak for itself.



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user ratings (80)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
neekafat
September 13th 2018


12984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This one feels a bit more blunt than my usual review, not sure if it's for better or for worse

FreddieDelaney31
September 13th 2018


4898 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Fantastic review my friend

Obviously disagree but can understand where yr coming from

Jasdevi087
September 14th 2018


5350 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah this is about right tbh

Jasdevi087
September 14th 2018


5350 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's like watching a Lynch film on TV with a fucktonne of ads

Papa Universe
September 14th 2018


18102 Comments


it's like listening to a surprisingly poetic eunuch with toned-down vocal mixing, singing all about daily routine and hardships of other poetic eunuchs.
blood POS

Digging: Selvans - Faunalia

neekafat
September 14th 2018


12984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks guys (:

@Jas and Papi, correct takes

@Freddie, I'm glad you enjoy it so much!

AngryJohnny
September 14th 2018


835 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is an excellent review, preferred Freetown Sound to this because I just feel the songwriting is better

bloc
September 14th 2018


52995 Comments


Fuckin finally this got a review. This was the first album I ever heard from this guy and loved it. Probably will make it into my top 10

Digging: Sparks - No. 1 in Heaven

neekafat
September 14th 2018


12984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@johnny, thanks man! I'll have to check that one out (:

@bloc plz tell me you mean of the year and not all time

bloc
September 14th 2018


52995 Comments


Haha yeah of the year of course

neekafat
September 14th 2018


12984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Lol that is acceptable then (;

Lord(e)Po)))ts
September 15th 2018


39732 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

just saw him last night, had Empress Of open for him and both her and Tei Shi came out and performed their respective features from this and the last alb

FreddieDelaney31
September 15th 2018


4898 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Sounds fucking incredible

Lord(e)Po)))ts
September 15th 2018


39732 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah it was great! He's such a gem.

neekafat
September 18th 2018


12984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Woah two big 5 0s, glad you guys dig this so much!

Lord(e)Po)))ts
September 22nd 2018


39732 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

NIGGA IM FEELIN MYSELF

rabidfish
September 22nd 2018


4197 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

3 perfectly fine albums later, dude still hasn't completely won me over... I'm still looking forward for when he does, tho.

Digging: Black Kray - Ice Cream & Mac 10s

neekafat
September 25th 2018


12984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah this has definitely made me interested in hearing more from him in the future

brandontaylor
October 15th 2018


734 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this had a really cool atmosphere and makes for an engaging, cohesive listen, but none of the individual tracks stuck out as excellent for me. that could change with a few more listens though, i feel like this one is a grower.

neekafat
October 15th 2018


12984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agreed sir



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