Dev Hynes has announced the follow-up to his blissfully excellent 2013 Blood Orange album, Cupid Deluxe. After that hypnotic LP, Hynes veered towards more deeply political tracks, and a far less soothing style, in the aftermath of various incidents of police brutality and racialized violence — particularly for his song “Sandra’s Smile,” about Sandra Bland, and “Do You See My Skin Through the Flames,” about the Charleston massacre. In regards to a series of unreleased songs about Trayvon Martin, he’d said in a talk with The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, “I didn’t want ME to be the aesthetic. I didn’t want myself to be in the way of what I was thinking and what I wanted to say.”
With his new album, however, it seems Hynes will be turning back towards himself, albeit while retaining the political charge of his recent music. Speaking with V Magazine, he revealed that the title of the album would be Freetown Sound, named in part after the capital of Sierra Leone, where his father is from. From the interview, it seems the album is deeply rooted in notions of being brought up firmly within the Christian faith, coupled with the awareness of that faith’s existence as an accessory to and continued marker of colonialism. He discusses the themes the album addresses through an anecdote, and perhaps the album itself will trace the small gesture he describes towards its multifarious meanings. He explains in the interview:
This is gonna sound terrifying, but there is a strong theme of Christianity on the record. When I was growing up, Christianity was drilled into my head so intensely, to the point where, as a child, I was meant to be left-handed but was forced to use my right instead. Left-handedness was seen as a sign of darkness…The record addresses the way Christianity was brought to West Africa and the way black households held on very tightly to Christianity because it was this beacon of hope…and how eventually this somehow led to someone in a school telling me not to use my left hand. It’s been very interesting for me trying to understand and tie all of these things together…There’s also a lot of stuff about race and specifically things that have happened to me.
Beyond this, Hynes states that the album talks about, among other things, sexuality — which is a subject Hynes sees more fluidly than the media is often able to understand. In February of 2015, he’d Tweeted:
Speaking of how people had been upset about him being on the cover of Out Magazine, he’d Tweeted, “Everybody was mad because I’m not ‘gay.’ But I’m not ‘straight’ & have never claimed to be. They ignored I was 1 of [the] few black males to be on the cover.”
The album will also allegedly touch on “displacement and life in the city.” (Hynes was born in London, but now lives in New York.) The intro to the interview in V referred to it as “Hynes’s most personal and stylistically sprawling release to date,” and Hynes himself claims “it’s probably the most relatable thing [he’s] ever done” because it actually is so personal. He compares it both to Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique and other early Dust Brothers-produced albums.
Hynes also posted the announcement of the new album on Instagram: