The trend has been brewing for some time now, and it has finally been perfected in Blood Orange’s newest release, Cupid Deluxe. This trend I refer to has become very well known specifically in the past year; this kind of sad/emotional synth dance pop, most often with heavy influences from 70s disco and 80s R&B. Everyone from Ducktails (latest album The Flower Lane) to top dogs like Drake (Hold On, We’re Going Home) are playing with this smooth, groovy (if you will), and specifically melancholy sound. However, I am convinced that Dev Hynes of Blood Orange has perfected this sound in Cupid Deluxe.
Just because Blood Orange stays very much within this trend does not automatically detract from the album. Influences from 80s pop (especially Prince) and some 90s R&B are more than present throughout, but Hynes creates an originality alongside these influences that bring it very much into 2013. Cupid Deluxe is more than just a direct interpretation of these influences, it seems to have some underlying meaning Hynes is trying to get at. First, there is the obvious heartbreak specifically found in “You’re Not Good Enough,” “On the Line,” and “It Is What It Is” (all reminiscent of the heartbreak felt in Solange’s “Losing You” and Sky Ferreira’s “Everything Is Embarrassing,” both co-written by Hynes). But more so than this, Hynes states that this album was inspired by New York City: “I lived in Brooklyn for some time and finally made the leap into Manhattan. So a lot of the record is about that, transitions, life transitions. Moving from a stable position to an unstable position. Something we have all been through” (NME). Not to get too analytical, but the pacing of this album perfectly follows the ups and downs that come with one’s feelings toward the city they live in, and what it’s like to leave this. Even us Columbians can understand what it’s like to have a lot of love for a city and the people in it, or on the other hand having problems with this city, and everything in between these feelings. Some have pulled the pretentious card on Hynes, but I think this is a perfectly valid inspiration for an album, and one that everyone can connect to.
In regards to the pacing, there aren’t great highs or lows in Cupid Deluxe, but rather it flows back and forth somewhere in the middle. “Chamakay” and “You’re Not Good Enough” slowly drag us into this album, both being melancholy and more towards this low end. As we get to the more upbeat “Uncle Ace” and “No Right Thing,” this progression feels really natural. This flow that is present throughout the album allows time for the songs to really grow on the listener. Another factor contributing to this was the collaborations with various other artists throughout the album, some of the most notable being Clams Casino and Dave Longstreth (of Dirty Projectors) on “No Right Thing,” Skepta on “High Street,” and Caroline Polachek on “Chamakay.” The appearance of these various voices are what contribute to the diversity of the album overall, and what make it really enjoyable and easy to listen to all the way through.
Ultimately I get it; Cupid Deluxe is hip, it’s trendy, maybe a little pretentious to some, and definitely uses the word “baby” way too much; but that doesn’t mean it can’t provide a genuine experience. It took me a few listens to decide on my feelings, and I enjoyed trying to figure out how I felt about it. If you do the same and find that you don’t agree with what I’m saying here, Cupid Deluxe is still definitely worth the listen.
On the Line
You’re Not Good Enough
No Right Thing
Emily is Originally from St. Louis, MO (cue Nelly lyric) and majoring in English & International Studies. You can hear her play music’s greatest ladies every Wednesday from 8-10pm on Who Run the World? Thanks to our cool new website, she now gets to combine her two greatest pastimes: opinions about music and writing.