Nothing’s more annoying than a prodigy. Still, the relative youth and all-over-the-map prolificacy of author-cartoonist-musician Devonté Hynes is tough to resist. After a stint as a member of the abrasive, overhyped (but still pretty damn good) Test Icicles, the 24-year-old turned to a solo career—a move that produced 2008’s Falling Off The Lavender Bridge, a disc full of pastoral mope influenced by the Saddle Creek players with whom Hynes recorded. But on the follow-up, Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You., the American-born, British-raised songwriter taps deeper into his Anglocentricity, not to mention his vivid imagination. “Darlene” is a stark, stomping anthem assembled out of disco strings, guitar heroism, and Hynes’ snarling croon. With sidelong nods to the streetwise swagger of The Libertines and the thespian embellishment of Patrick Wolf, tracks like “Madame Van Damme” and “Faculty Of Fears” offer parades of heady, baroque hooks that still manage to stay rooted in the heart. The flow of the album from shout-along to chilling ballad to piano etude and back again is uneven, but the lack of a conventional dynamic feels more candid and endearing than anything else. Hynes clearly sees rock, pop, and even classical music as different rides in the same amusement park.
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