In my quest to review everything touched by Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange aka Lightspeed Champion, I’ve landed at Solange’s 2012 EP True. This tape came at the perfect time, Solo had just left Interscope to do her own independent thing, Dev had just released Coastal Grooves, and there was a noticeable shift in music going on. The early 2010’s allowed artists to be even weirder than they could be in the 2000’s. Everything sounded new, and if it was obviously a continuation of a familiar sound, it sounded refurbished. This shift had people’s ears open, so when Solange and Dev put this out with it’s total difference from her past work, nobody discarded it immediately. We should thank Theophilus London for this even happening, and leave it at that.
This tape feels like young love, that dumb teenage love. Promises of never breaking up, if this person leaves me I might die energy. That would usually be a bad thing for two adults to make, but Solo does it in such a way where you fully relate to the emotions. Right at the start with “Losing You,” Solo is trying to mend a relationship where the other person is growing more and distant. She knows there’s no use, but this person means so much that she’s still fighting for it. Her vocals paired with the instrumentation can either have longing for your lover or wishing that you had someone to hold your lonely ass. “Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work” is a song with a very long title. It also contains the only low part of the tape. Surprisingly, it comes from Dev. Now, this was 2012. Dev’s rapping has gotten exponentially better since this project. Thankfully, because it sucks here. Supposedly, it’s supposed to be more of a spoken word bit than actual rapping. If that was the case I wish they would’ve cut the beat or something to signify that. Dev’s flow clashes with the beat and he sounds a bit frantic and off. I guess that is supposed to communicate the emotion of a love that’s faltering. I do know though, that this makes me cringe every single time I hear it. Okay, “Lovers In The Parking Lot,” is such a perfect title for this song. It sounds like just sitting in the car with your significant other and you’re doing whatever, just happy to be in their presence. So perfect. The lyrics, however, are a bit depressing. It tells a story of someone who can’t commit and broke another person’s heart with no thought behind it. The other person obviosuly had feelings for them, but they weren’t ready to commit. When they felt like it finally time to settle down, the other person had moved on. The hook, “Played around with your heart, Now I’m laying around in the dark, Played around with your heart, Now I’m paying when we’re apart,” is so saddening with the instrumental behind it. Now, let me let you in on a little secret: If you’re making out with someone, play “Looks Good With Trouble.” Perfect song for it. I don’t know how they communicated so much emotion and passion in just a minute and a half, but sheesh, they did it with expertise. It sounds like staring into the eyes of your lover and getting a sense of pure infatuation. It sounds like making out with someone in the fitting room at some upscale store. That brings me back to what I said earlier, that young and dumb love. You know you could just go home, but something came over you and that only privacy is in the fitting room. Wow, exactly that. (Sidenote: There’s a remix of this song with Kendrick Lamar, now in 2021, this might be interesting, but this was 2012. Kendrick was still using that nasally, high-pitched voice. It’s a good verse, but it just makes me want to hurry up and get back to Solange’s part because it’s extended on this version!) Okay, “Bad Girls” is a perfect way to send off this tape. This was originally a Blood Orange song that he had released earlier that year. In Dev’s version it’s from a narrator’s perspective, outlying all of the wild things this bad girl does, in Solo’s version she is the bad girl. Stealing, having one-night stands, constant hangovers. Dev wants to be her shoulder to cry on, but Solo can’t tell him her problem. Solo’s voice just make you feel the pain of the girl and the longing to feel at home with someone. Her harmonizing over Dev’s guitar playing is top-notch.
Still here? Okay, real quick, the instrumentals on this project? Chef’s kiss. You can hear Dev’s sound progress from Coastal Grooves, to this project, and onto Cupid Deluxe. The use of reverbed-synths and synth pads on “Losing You,” The sporadic drums on “Locked In Closets” paired with that weird, stretched out bassline, the minimalist approach to “Looks Good With Trouble,” too. Wow, every single time I hear that song my chest warms up with the feeling of pure love. That’s how you communicate emotions over audio waves. Should be taught in schools. Go call your lover if you read this, tell ’em you love ’em. Then ask if they want to go to the mall and make out in the Macy’s dressing room.
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