Ex-Test Icicle Dev Hynes switches tack 180 degrees with his new project, a ragged and joyous indie-pop singalong.
Galaxy of the Lost, the debut EP from ex-Test Icicle Dev Hynes, is a far leap from the musician's previous effort. Never clear as to whether that was primarily a joke, so it's also not completely transparent in this case. But if the pedigree of musicianship on the effort comes off a bit forthright, earnest and if at times overblown that's part of Hynes' new musical mood. Cute British songstress Emmy the Great provides backing vocals, e.g., and the instrumentation's pure orchestral pop -- acoustic guitars, saccharine strings, all that. The title track and first single adequately showcases Hynes' flitting attention, traipsing with a carefree optimism through various styles of 60s pop nostalgia. Throughout, the chord progressions and melodies are exceedingly familiar, but delivered with a refreshing pop maximalism that's currently buoying other British acts like Mika. "The Flesh Failures" turns into a deft interpolation of "Aquarius/The Sunshine Song", a relaxed and more pleading version of the refrain than the original. Occasionally, Hynes' over-enunciated accent has the twang of pop-punk, but he neatly avoids that fake emotional terrain with deft characterization: "No Surprise (Acoustic Version)" tells the story of a playboy, who's believably lonely despite all the phone numbers and beds. This all promises something more substantial than "Circle Square Triangle"'s one-note growl -- optimistic and melodious indie pop, marrying twee's childhood sensibility with a more mature emotional range. Bodes well for the debut full-length, due next year.