Published on Monash University student-run site www.newshit.com.au on June 28 2010.
American born-British raised Devonte Hynes is a 23-year-old musician extraordinaire. He can play the drums, guitar, double bass, piano, cello, synthesizer and probably many other instruments he’ll bestow his talents upon us with one day. Hynes was formerly a member of Domino Records act Test Icicles, but when they went their separate ways in 2006, he stuck with the label. In the two years that followed he began touring and recording solo under the moniker of Lightspeed Champion.
Unfortunately this extensive touring regime resulted in major throat problems that began to hinder his singing abilities. After undergoing throat surgery in December last year, Hynes couldn’t talk for weeks. His time was spent writing up his second album, Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You. Completing work on the album in March, it can be best described as being a mixture of instrumentals, intermissions, electronics and just plain boringness.
The album kicks off the boredom at track one, “Dead Head Blues”. The steady beat of the drums gets repetitive and the timbre of the electronics don’t enhance the track whatsoever. Worst of all, the dull vocals maintain the same pitch, tone and volume throughout the track, a forewarning of what follows the rest of the album. Second track “Marlene” looks promising to begin with as it starts off as an upbeat dance tune, however instantly falls flat through a lack of vocal timbre due to minimal backing vocals.
One track does manage to shine through the abyss of duds however. “The Big Guns Of Highsmith” shows off Hynes’ piano skills, an instrument he’s been playing for 18 years since the age of 7. The melodic backing vocals add a call and response element to the track which is nowhere else to be seen on the album. A number of other tracks benefit from the inclusion of his magnificent instrumentation.
The best tracks on Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You are definitely the instrumentals, which showcase his true talents as a drummer and pianist. These tracks also save the listener from having to be exposed to his boring, atonal singing.
Could being holed up in his apartment, unable to speak while writing the album be the reason why the instrumental, rather than vocal tracks are much stronger?
On the whole, Life is Sweet! Nice To Meet You does not quite manage to grab the attention of the listener. Upon listening to the album in its entirety, the tracks quite frankly seem to merge together and sound the same.