Blood Orange – Angel’s Pulse

If you haven’t listened to Blood Orange’s 2018 album Negro Swan, start there. Let its chilling soundscapes and spoken-word commentaries about blackness, depression, and anxiety sink in until you’re a little uneasy (and probably also in awe of Devonté Hynes’ ambition and artistry). Then, return to this, his first-ever mixtape—billed as an epilogue to Swan—which the London-bred Hynes describes as an “almost stream-of-consciousness diary entry” that ultimately resembles something like healing. “It ends hopefully,” he tells Apple Music, “or tries to. I’m not sure if I’ve ever successfully done that before, but I wanted to here.” After a brutal year of political and cultural turmoil and the loss of several close friends, including rapper Mac Miller, Hynes felt moved to release more music and to change the tone. Angel’s Pulse is wide-ranging, fast-moving, and psychedelic, like a whirlwind tour through the back corners of his mind. It is not, Hynes notes, an overt political statement: “If there are things that read as political, it’s because I’m experiencing things that are happening in the world,” he says. “As someone who has struggled with sexuality, who is black, who grew up in Essex and Barking and then moved to New York City, who is 33 and lived before the internet and after it, and who is living in a time when just buying a fucking coffee is political, my music will of course be political. But it’s a diary, not an agenda. My goal is just to be honest.”

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