Lead single Chamakay opens Cupid Deluxe with a level of polish and intensity Coastal Groove simply never reached. The tropical sounding production feels like a widescreen-curtain-up moment as Chairlift's Caroline Polachek drops sensual and emotionally heightened adlibs, the vocal sparring feeling hurt, desperate and bruised... It is hard not to feel caught up in their personal strife, such is the intimacy Hynes and Polachek create, and the playfully melodic bass and sax combo create a distinct 80s passion.
Hynes has managed to make his first album where pretty much every track feels like a single. Never Good Enough has the most gorgeous vocal hook and and boasts just how much his sound has moved on since Coastal Grooves. The jazzy ambience of Chosen feels like a spiritual ascent - your feet might just lift off the air - and the early 90s slink of Clipped On's rap from Despot is instantly catchy and infectious.
Cupid Deluxe is also incredibly deep and self-reverential, almost a concept album... Repeated listens reveal subtle references to other tracks either on the album or Hynes' other work. Was that the chord progression from Losing You on Uncle Ace, or just my imagination? And how did he get to the epicly lush, heavy heartbeat rhythms of closing ballad Time Will Tell, a track that is effectively a remix of It Is What It Is (also on this album). And it throws Coastal Grooves closing track Champagne Close into both Time Will Tell and there again, in the "Baby let me take you home" refrain from Closer. Cupid Deluxe feels almost dreamlike as a result - full of weird connections and references that make listening to it feel like time is being bent back on itself, your consciousness skipping around. Even long forgotten britpop band Mansun get a nod in the form of Always Let U Down, a track that is effectively either an ambitious cover or a remix (or both) of their 2000 release I Can Only Disappoint U.
This is one of the most ambitious and fascinating albums I've heard all year, and yet having lived with it for a week it already feels intense to listen to. Hynes' plays the victim of Cupid rather than his benefactor here - hurt by love rather than rewarded by it. Asking the subject of On The Line whether they are his, the uncertainty regarding the breakdown of a relationship potentially as bad as the break up itself. Hynes' main vocal refrain on Clipped On, a repeated "All I do is think about you, baby" is incessantly nagging yet beautiful, much like the face and memory that you suspect haunt him.
The caring (shared) vocals of It Is What It Is and Time Will Tell are perhaps the most love struck here - unconditionally offering reassurance "Time will tell if you can figure this and work it out, no-one's waiting for you anyway so don't be stressed out...", whilst Hynes' subsequent calls of "Come into my bedroom" seem dragged from his subconscious, betraying his feelings. It is a heartfelt and overwhelming conclusion to a staggering album that manages to feel thoroughly modern whilst speaking loudly to the timelessness of the human condition.
Cupid Deluxe is out on Monday through Domino. Available to pre-order from Amazon.co.uk on CD and MP3 [affiliate links]. You can currently stream the album in full on YouTube.