Album Cover of Coastal Grooves (Domino, 2011)

Our Thoughts On: Blood Orange’s Coastal Grooves




“I feel unique, not yet complete,” is the first line Devonté Hynes sings on 2011’s Coastal Grooves, his debut album as Blood Orange. It’s a fitting statement for a singular and multifaceted artist to make at the start of his career.

Over the last decade, Hynes has released five acclaimed albums under the Blood Orange moniker. Even if you don’t consider yourself a devoted Blood Orange listener, you’ve likely encountered his dreamy sonic landscapes somewhere. Original scores by Hynes soundtracked the Tumblr-ready teen ennui of Gia Coppola’s 2013 debut feature Palo Alto and the youthful displacement and exploration of Luca Guadagnino’s 2020 HBO series We Are Who We Are. His additional film and TV credits include the features Queen & Slim and Mainstream, and the recent series In Treatment and Naomi Osaka.

Hynes seems to thrive when working with an eclectic community of artists. While Blood Orange is a solo project, it rarely feels too self-referential. Rather, Hynes looks outward—he gathers, he recreates, he invents. In 2021 so far, he has collaborated with musical greats like Beverly Glenn-Copeland and Paul McCartney.

August 2021 marks the 10-year anniversary of the release of Coastal Grooves. Teen movies and TV aside, Blood Orange’s music soundtracked many of our own teenage years and young adulthoods over the past decade. In this installment of Our Thoughts On, the COPY music team takes a look back on Blood Orange’s beginnings, and the lives we’ve lived alongside the music.   

Coastal Grooves sounds like Hynes took the ‘60s surf rock that filled my childhood and processed it through an intoxicating ‘80s filter. It’s missing the artist features and collage-like sound that I love about his later albums, but he builds a nonetheless vibrant world here. This album has been a standby on my playlists over the years, and certain songs take me back to specific street corners. Still, they never feel dated. “Champagne Coast” is a modern classic in my book, but I’m partial to “I’m Sorry We Lied”—its rushed melodrama sounds almost satirical, and it makes something visually reminiscent of a Safdie brothers movie play in my head. 
Favorite track: “I’m Sorry We Lied”

I hadn’t listened to this one in maybe 6 or 7 years. With the first line of the first track, I am instantly transported back to who I was at age 16, specifically on NJ Transit, coming back from a concert late at night on a weekday. It makes me feel independent and truly, very cool. Timeless and groovy!
Favorite track: “Forget It”

Awesome music, awesome artist, I love Dev Hynes…really cool how he’s been doing more scoring recently and this music I feel is at the roots of that. You gather yourself, you run circles around the same cabin in the woods you went to every winter growing up, and lose yourself. Blood Orange is off to the races and ahead is a career that will change lives all over the world, building relationships over albums that we’re all lucky to grow old with.
Favorite track: “Champagne Coast”

It’s amazing to see what Dev Hynes has done with his career. It’s hard to imagine while listening to Coastal Grooves that this artist would become one of the most popular and influential artists on not just the indie scene but also having deep footholds in the pop and hip hop community. Going back and listening to this debut I can come to a greater appreciation of the music sounding much more modern than how strange and futuristic it could come off in 2011. Blood Orange will always bring to memory of trying to befriend the cool alternative kids in the Rubin Hall lounge freshman year of college. Those friendships lasted to the tune of Freetown Sound and Negro Swan but that friendly sound all started here.
Favorite track: “Sutphin Boulevard”

More often than not, I forget all about Coastal Grooves. It’s woven into memories, sitting alongside impressions of biking around Long Beach Island and indulgent post-sleepover pancake breakfasts in the deepest compartments of my brain. But, once Dev Hynes hits that first note on “Forget It,” the memories and associated feelings come flooding out. Coastal Grooves is evocative and emotionally captivating, something that remains consistent across Blood Orange’s entire discography. Much like the sounds of Freetown Sound and Negro Swan, every time I hear Coastal Grooves, I can’t help but wish I’ve spent more time with it over the years.
Favorite track: “Can We Go Inside Now”

Let us know what you think of the album below: