Freetown Sound

Blood Orange - Freetown Sound
Critic Score
Based on 30 reviews
2016 Ratings: #109 / 763
Year End Rank: #20
User Score
Based on 504 ratings
2016 Ratings: #48
June 27, 2016 / Release Date
LP / Format
Domino / Label
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
A.V. Club
His anger at society’s hegemonic structure provided him with the fuel to create an album that works to burn down oppression while celebrating his blackness.
91
Consequence of Sound

Built on that confidence and a bold, uncompromising vision singular in scope and execution, Freetown Sound stands concurrently as a deeply personal work and a striking representation of the struggles present in today’s society.

90
Exclaim!

A sprawling, cut-and-paste, idea-rich album that moves the listener as much physically as emotionally, coating the harsh truths and lyrical pills here with clean, honeyed production and uptempo, undeniable rhythms.

90
FasterLouder
Hynes is a voice of strength, a new Missy for a new generation of young people who live in fear of being shot down in the street, in a club, of being bullied and oppressed for who they are.
90
Drowned in Sound

It’s melodically strong enough, and bursting with so many ideas that it feels incredibly timeless: futuristic and classic all at once.

88
Pitchfork

Dev Hynes' third album as Blood Orange is a searing and soothing personal document, striking the same resonant chords as Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly or D’Angelo’s Black Messiah.

85
Under The Radar

It is Hynes' ability to use such a variety of guest artists to complement, rather than overpower, his own work that is major factor in Freetown Sound's victory. When coupled with a powerful message and masterful vocal and instrumental arrangements, the result is Dev Hynes best work under any of his musical guises.

80
Spin
Where others with grave ideas to communicate — like, say, D’Angelo, Kendrick Lamar, or even punk acts like Downtown Boys — make their political aims pointed, insistent, and repetitive, Hynes’ message instead radiates outward. He sees problems and recounts them, tells his own story, and weighs the significance of narratives like his in the face of an oppressive world outside.
80
Rolling Stone

Freetown Sound is one deep avant-pop mixtape, a masterpiece of composition, curation and choreography addressing present-day black art and experience while refusing limits at every turn.

80
NOW Magazine
The hallmarks of Blood Orange’s sound are all here – breathy male/female vocal interplay, rare groove rhythms, jazzy sax, gliding slap bass, honeyed falsetto melodies and flirty spoken word – but channelled into a reassuring, comfortable space that brings together pop’s supposed polarities of accessibility and specificity.
80
NME
With ‘Freetown Sound’, he’s made something bold, challenging, uncompromising and overlong – an album, like the man who made it, that’s the sum of its parts and then some.
80
Clash

If Hynes had chosen to make the power of femininity the basis of this album it would be pretty much flawless ... But the single issue that undermines the cohesiveness of ‘Freetown Sound’ is Hynes’ decision to publicise it as an album about black identity, which it really isn’t.

80
Tiny Mix Tapes

Freetown Sound is a clapback, a healing song, a historical re-embodiment of the (infinite number of) (also) black experience(s) contained within the vantage of a single individual.

80
No Ripcord

It’s a collection of unsightly surveillances expressed in a magnificent manner, and the work of a man more than capable of out-creating himself.

75
The Line of Best Fit
It’s an album that feels haphazard but one that is luckily more hit than miss, and an album that ultimately needs to be experienced.
75
The 405
It's a powerful thing when reports that would never have surfaced had not a safe place been made public, make one of the most sincere sonic statements of the year.
70
Slant Magazine

Freetown Sound certainly has the sprawl, hyperactivity, and potential of a personal masterwork, but its master is more conduit and conductor than confessor.

70
Loud and Quiet
‘Freetown Sound’ is trite and mawkish and far too sugary sweet. Then again, this is a kaleidoscopic tour of Hynes’ inner world, and who am I to say that he’s not as sweet as he is clever?
70
AllMusic

Ultimately the record is so personal, that the only one to understand every layer is Hynes' himself. As a result Freetown Sound can come across as weighty, undecipherable chaos to some. But for anyone who can relate to him on some level, it's hard not to be in awe of a man as complicated as Devonté Hynes being able to compose such an insightful, personal experience.

70
PopMatters
For the record, it is his best and I have a feeling his next one—if he tightens up the sprawl—will be even better.
70
musicOMH

There’s certainly more highlight than filler contained in Freetown Sound and it is, ultimately, an album that deserves to be heard.

60
The Guardian

Perhaps it’s almost too personal a project: in fact, listening to Freetown Sound feels not unlike reading someone’s diary. It’s often passionate, illuminating and fascinating, it frequently bears the hallmarks of self-indulgence, and some of it, you get the feeling, might only make sense to its author.

60
DIY
That’s the frustration of ‘Freetown Sound’ – a record packed full of invention, innovation and perfectly executed production flourishes that would make even the most hardened major label crony sweat, it almost crumbles under the weight of its half-finished ideas.
60
The Needle Drop

Blood Orange makes an ambitious return with Freetown Sound.

MinatoArisato
70
Blood Orange finally refines his sound, as a result, we get this really groovy and soulful record made to drive at night too.

Best Track: Squash Squash
Worst Track: By Ourselves
MasterCrackfox
84
As I was reflecting on the soul records released in 2016 (namely Awaken, My Love! and Malibu) I felt it was necessary to revisit the release by Dev Hynes under the moniker of Blood Orange Freetown Sound.

This is a vastly different style of soul music, incorporating elements of disco, jazz, funk, dream pop and just pop in general to blend into a unique and varied complete project. It may be a strange comparison, but as I was relistening to Freetown Sound I kept thinking that this sounded like ... read more
musicmagpie55
77
Blood Orange's best record for me. I think his catchy songwriting and experimental endeavors are equally matched on this album. There are incredible hooks, like 'Best to You,' but also more exploratory songs like 'Desiree' that weave samples and melodies into strange new bops. Everything sounds good on this album, and it is always fun to see who he brings on as collaborators. The Carly track is a highlight!
pstaggs
95
ALBUM OF THE WEEK (#5)

Freetown Sound is not as explicitly about the “black experience” in modern society as many of the other "big statement" albums by black artists usually are. Unlike these other “big statement” albums, such as Fear of a Black Planet, To Pimp a Butterfly, and Yeezus, Freetown Sound is much more broad-reaching. It isn’t just about dealing with your ethnicity in the modern era, but it is about trying to be yourself or the person that ... read more
EntryIncomplete
83
Freetown Sound has that artistry that levitates it above Blood Orange's previous albums.

For the first time I feel as if Dev is trying to write music that doesn't just sound great, but has a bit of a deeper meaning to it as well. Sure this is still 80s revivalism of sorts, just like his last record, but now Dev is taking the sounds of that era and really makes them his own. For being almost an hour in length, I really only hunger for more of it, there are very few tracks that feel unnecessary ... read more
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Decade Lists

#43/Crack Magazine (2010s)

Track List

  1. By Ourselves
  2. Augustine
  3. Chance
  4. Best to You
  5. With Him
  6. E.V.P.
  7. Love Ya
  8. But You
  9. Desirée
  10. Hands Up
  11. Hadron Collider
  12. Squash Squash
  13. Juicy 1-4
  14. Better Than Me
  15. Thank You
  16. I Know
  17. Better Numb
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Added on: June 7, 2016