Wow. Just wow. Within the first less-than-a-minute of the video for “Augustine,” there is already too much to fit into one brief writeup. There’s Dev Hynes playing the imaginary keys with the fascination of the recently-late Bernie Worrell, there’s religious imagery juxtaposed with Muhammad Ali and Trayvon Martin and there’s a digital-to-film dramatic jump cut reminiscent of Luis López Carrasco’s genius. It’s all there and all packaged up in the vintage NYC feeling of an old Fader issue.
This is what makes Dev Hynes such a fascinating and brilliant musician: the ability to converge just so much poignant and intense material into the small space of a pop song. But oh what a pop song this is. The the keys, the screechy-spooky electric guitar, and wait, is that the same drum pattern from that When in Rome song? Holy shit. That’s not even counting its best part: the vocals. Hynes switches between three modes, from deadpan Dean Blunt force to perfectly-produced angelic reverb to attitude-laced falsetto. Each seems to match just as perfectly with the stripped-down dancing instrumentation.
Everything that has made the best pop albums of the past years — from Sky Ferreira to FKA twigs to Beyoncé to Carly Rae Jepsen and beyond — it’s all here in these four and a half minutes. It’s not too clear what Dev Hynes was before now. Was he an indie pop icon? An underground star? An alternative outsider? But now it’s all very clear. Dev is a pop genius, and he’s here to keep making waves.