Blood Orange open their new album in a big way with the track “By Ourselves.” Massive symphonic vocals wring in a sample of Ashlee Haze’s powerful “For Colored Girls (The Missy Elliott Poem),” making a statement of the importance of feminism in relation to the career of rapper Missy Elliot. From this point forward, the album obtains a mellow aesthetic with cool keyboard sounds and clear vocal lines speaking over the subdued electronically tinged r/b beats.
The album contains a wide array of influence with each track maintaining a unique personality. On “Best to You,” a punching bass line is highlighted by delicious percussive textures alluding to a warm soundscape. Dev Hynes’ introverted vocals are contrasted by the more outspoken delivery of feature artist Empress Of. Dance vibes continue into “E.V.P.” where deep bass vocals combine with articulated guitar rhythms and slap bass, leaning more towards the funk idiom. The end of this track features a fantastic drum solo with rhythms coming at all different frequencies, leading into a mysterious whispery ending placing the audience in the mindset for the undefined nature of “Love Ya.”
The album thrives on Hynes’ astounding ability to transition between his songs. Whether it be the use of a short interlude track or vocal/instrumental sample, the album continuously makes an effort to sensibly move from idea to idea. Also, the transitions hide the song forms. Although there are often relatively straightforward verses and choruses, they are hidden within each track by the transitional space, which somehow manages to vary a great deal.
Overall the production remains intriguing from beginning to end. Sometimes funk artists over indulge themselves in groove making for a slightly obnoxious aesthetic, however, Hynes’ mellow vocal conception helps the work maintain a constant sense of subtlety. All that said there are some overly retro tracks. “Hands Up” gives off a bit of an excessive 80s vibe, whereas “Jucy 1-4” stagnates on visceral vocal work.
Freetown Sound left a great first impression on me. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. There were some dull moments, further listens will determine how problematic they are to the overall product.