ALBUM: “Coastal Grooves” by Blood Orange
RELEASE YEAR: 2011
LABEL: Domino Recording Co.
BEST TRACKS: “Sutphin Avenue”, “Can We Go Inside Now” and “Champagne Coast”
Devonte Hynes, otherwise known as Blood Orange, is arguably one of the best composers of our generation. His experimentation with synths, falsettos, and dance music paired with compelling, emotional lyrics makes his music truly unforgettable. Through his songs, he tackles topics like sexuality, race, and gender identity.
The first time I heard Dev Hynes’ music I was a surly 14-year-old, rarely impressed by anything. However, I was obsessed with this indie movie called “Palo Alto,” which he produced the soundtrack for. Something about that score really stuck with me. It was so beautifully reflective of the nostalgic and free-spirited feeling of the movie.
“Coastal Grooves,” his first full-length album, is a masterpiece. Released in 2011, it has a distinct ’80s energy. Combining all of Dev’s strengths, it’s a powerful fusion of pop, indie, R&B, electronica, and post-punk. Dynamic, hard-hitting drums echo behind synth keyboards. His signature falsetto voice flows across each song in whispers rather than belts. Influenced by the New York night scene, Dev draws his inspiration for “Coastal Grooves” from drag clubs and gay bars. What I love about this album is his surfy plucking on the electric guitar; In songs like “Sutphin Boulevard” and “Are You Sure You’re Really Busy?,” the groove part of “Coastal Grooves” really stands out.
Above all else, this album is sultry, lush, and soulful. Though “Negro Swan” (2018) and “Freetown Sound” (2016) tend to get the most press out of all his discography, to me “Coastal Grooves” is a true gem. If you haven’t heard it already, give it a listen!
Stay tuned in!
– DJ Butter