Blood Orange effortlessly combines a wide range of musical styles through brilliant production and sly transitioning. Over the course of the first five songs, the album evolves from a gospel-tinged opening number into more dance-induced funk tracks with interludes and surprising changes in aesthetic coming in different parts of each song.
“E.V.P.” develops from a spoken word sample about blackness into a Michael Jackson influenced drum beat with slap bass and retro keyboards eventually coming into the picture. Devonte Hynes’ vocals remained very subdued making for an especially moody texture. One of the best moments in the track comes when a big drum fill comes into the picture eventually cooling down into the digression that cues up the next tune. This serves as a great example of how the album flows. It always feels like Hynes is thinking about what’s coming next. Although the song be structured in a semi-typical fashion, with choruses and verses trading off, Hynes hides these structures amongst unpredictable developmental style.
The title of the song stands for “electronic voice phenomena” which is a reference to paranormal activity investigators who pick up on mysterious voices with electronic recorders. Perhaps this is Devonte Hynes’ tongue-in-cheek commentary on his own vocal styling, but the lyrics generally obtain a tone of unknown and mystery: “How could you know if you’re squandering your passion for another?” Hynes also seems to question aspects of his own character with “It makes me wonder/Will I ever be enough?” The exact topic of the song remains a bit esoteric, but this seems to be an aspect of Hynes’ style and the overall themes of the record come through very clearly when hearing the full soundscape.
Blood Orange have come through with a great record here. “E.V.P.” provides something to dance along to, but Hynes is careful to explore every other emotion through seemingly every other possible sound aesthetic.