In 2005 I was in love with a band called Test Icicles.
As with most bands I love, they split up. I hated life for a bit. I hated life until I heard Dev Hynes’ solo material under the name Lightspeed Champion. I heard Galaxy Of The Lost and I was just blown away. Lines such as “I feel better now I’ve seen you but deep inside my bones feel like timber” and “Hate to think what would happen if I, started to drink like you. Maybe I, would loosen up.” I just loved the sheer vulnerability in the song. Falling Off The Lavender Bridge is such a phenomenal debut album. The fragility and frustration in the songs just stole my heart. Songs such as No Surprise, Let The Bitches Die and Dry Lips- especially Dry Lips mean so much to me. “Tell her, I give up. He’s won, I have lost all my humanity.” That specific line still holds as much meaning to me now as it did when I first heard it.
Next came the artist’s dreaded second album. Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You. I feel did not get the recognition and respect that Dev deserved. Musically he is a bloody genius. He slays the guitar. I’ve seen him live twice, and each time I was just left stood in awe. I remember walking right into him in Birmingham. I was just walking through the street and I walked right into him. As I wasn’t paying attention, it didn’t register it was Dev until I looked back and saw the hat he was wearing.
Last week Dev released a new album under the name Blood Orange. Is it better than Lightspeed Champion? Well, you cannot compare the two. It’s like comparing a shoe to water- you just can’t do it. I adore both projects. The album, Coastal Grooves just feels to me like 80s New York. No idea if that’s the vibe Dev was going with, but he is now based in New York. He left Dalston a few years ago, and went to New York. Smart move I say, going by the sounds of Blood Orange.
There is no doubt in my mind that Dev is a musical genius. It’s just utter genius his work. Every single song he has created is a masterpiece. He’s gone from singing songs in his flat in Dalston with Florence Welch (before she was signed) covering Green Day songs to producing tracks for Solange Knowles and hanging out with Jay-Z. Dev is well and truly living the dream ladies and gentlemen. He’s also worked with one of my favourite rappers, Theophilus London.
What I love about Dev is that, I feel he is unaware of what he means to so many. He is unaware that his music, as it evokes so much vulnerability and emotions- it becomes a crutch for some. It’s an inspiration. It makes you want to pick up a pen and paper, and just write down how you feel without feeling like a massive wuss. I love that his words are to the point, take Stay The Fuck Away From Me, “I’ve realised once more, that everyone’s a whore.” Deny it all you want, but we’ve all felt this way about someone. “I don’t mean to be blunt, but why don’t you fuck off.” Straight to the point, no need for metaphors and similes here- Dev just gets right to it.
I’ve always loved his covers too. Xanadu, Flesh Failures, Souvenirs, Heart In A Cage, Buddy Holly, Back To Black- they’re all just so bloody good.
I love that with Coastal Grooves, Dev doesn’t want to hear about any reviews of his work. To me, I feel this is pretty cool. Mainly because artists do not need to be told that what they have created is good or bad. I know I review albums and the like, but not once have I ever thought my opinion is worth listening to. Far from it. Why does Dev need to be aware of what’s been written about him? I listen to his work and think, he’d be a pretty cool person to sit down and watch basketball with. His down to earth lyrics make him easy to relate to. It makes it easy for you to allow yourself feel the way he does with his lyrics.
He’s just so wonderfully talented. I love that he doesn’t do just one kind of genre. There are so many influences in his music floating around. Whether it’s for himself or others- you can sense them all.
I do question why he isn’t as big as he deserves to be, but all that matters is that he is still putting out music. He is putting out music that is worth caring about and getting excited over.
I hope he brings Blood Orange to the UK. I don’t care if he comes back to the UK and just sings the phonebook, it’d still be brilliant. I just love his music and his voice. Every so often you find an artist that you just immediately connect with and you want to hear everything and anything they have done. My love for his music started in 2005. 6 years on, I doubt it will ever go away.
If you cannot hear the genius in his music, then you’re missing the point.