Dev Hynes, aka Lightspeed Champion has had one heck of a varied career. Beginning as 1/3 of the extinct art-thrashers Test-Icicles, he departed with this anarchic East-End clatter, and adopted an Americana sound with his debut ‘Falling Off Lavender Bridge’. In between this colossal u-turn, he bizarrely penned songs for X Factor Diana Vickers and more reasonably for Basement Jaxx. Now he is working with legendary Brian Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks, for his new EP, ‘Bye Bye’.
The first song on the EP, ‘Til I Die’, is the best song on the EP. Shame it is a cover. But nonetheless, Hynes manages to stay faithful to the Beach Boys original, by retaining the swirling unsettling hallucinogenic element that lurked ominously in the original, recorded nearly forty years ago, on the album ‘Surf’s Up’.
Second track, ‘Underwater There is Nothing’, is a baroque muddle, pompously strewn with scatty off-kilter strings that seem to rather drown Hynes’ vocals rather than compliment them. This meandering instrumentation continues with the continental-tinged third track, Bye Bye Icarus. It sounds like Hynes has stepped out with a shambling troupe of drunken Parisian buskers, with the inclusion of ramshackle accordions and a scatty string arrangement, resulting in a clumsy shuffle that leaves me hesitant to award his efforts and toss a Euro into his hat.
Fourth and final effort, ‘The Mess That You’re In’, is an autobiographical song that Hynes wrote, chronicling his time with the French buskers in question, when they forced him to perform degrading public acts and scandalous dares, in and around the French capital. Bowing to the unbridled peer-pressure and in a haze of inebriated foolishness, Hynes committed an act so astonishingly vulgar, it cannot be printed here today. As a result, he can never set foot in France again.
Although I have spouted criticisms in the direction of this EP, there is no disputing Hynes’ insatiable appetite to be creative and daring in his musical pursuits, but unfortunately the uniting of these musical talents has failed to ignite a timeless collaboration in which Dev probably desired. This may be a career-jolt, but I don’t expect to see Hynes bidding farewell anytime soon.
Bye Bye by Lightspeed Champion is out now on Domino Records
- Ben Cullen