Dev Hynes’ latest guise is better at being Metronomy than Metronomy are.
Chris Roberts 2011
Scenester, shape-shifter: is Dev Hynes – now appearing as Blood Orange – a Zelig-like chancer or a gifted chameleon? If the jury remained divided over his output with art-noisers Test Icicles then his twitchy country-rock as Lightspeed Champion, it should leap up and whoop now. Coastal Grooves is fabulous. Slinky, noir, 80s-influenced dance-pop, it makes all the right decisions, by accident or design. It’s better at being Metronomy than Metronomy are.
Suspicion is justifiable: now relocated to New York via LA, Hynes hangs with Jay-Z and Beyoncé, writes/produces for X-Factor loser Diana Vickers (and Solange Knowles) and always pops up in the fashionable place at the fashionable time. (He was even in Florence’s Machine for a while.) He claims to be "always broke", though how broke you have to be to relocate to the States with the Knowles sisters on speed-dial is baffling to most economists. Still, a great record is a great record, and he’s finally made one. This fact is even more curious given that a 2010 throat operation compelled him to adopt an entirely different singing technique: his subdued falsetto here works a treat with the languid, precise rhythms and faintly sleazy (a good thing) vibe.
Coastal Grooves emanates from a terrific fading disco you’ve stumbled across on the wrong side of the wrong kind of town. While shafts of sunlight peep in that might evoke Chris Isaak (twangy guitar fills; Blondie’s Atomic is another reference) and even mid-period Japan and their Art of Parties, most of this is sinister, sexy pop disguised as innocent, frothy pop. The brilliantly seductive Sutphin Boulevard knows it’s locked into a fat, irresistible groove and milks it astutely, residing somewhere between Roxy Music’s Lover, Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust and, er, Metronomy.
The chirpier, cheekier numbers jar, but S’cooled (not the only song written from a female perspective, it begins: "Oh I was a lonely girl...") is luxuriant and enticing. Complete Failure is like Robert Palmer playing Cameo, while The Complete Knock is The xx attempting Queen’s Flash. It’s really that entertaining. He’s found his voice now and he’s coasting. A winner.