Nothing about Dev Hynes, a.ka. Lightspeed Champion, is easily categorized. Born in Houston but raised in Essex, Hynes cut his teeth in the punk fusion band the Test Icicles and then later said that he wasn’t that into the music. That Galaxy of the Lost sounds like a smash-up of Brian Wilson and Sam Beam should come as no surprise; the man’s exploring his influences and forging a new path in pop music. No matter what feelings Hynes expresses later about this set, Galaxy of the Lost is filled from beginning to end with slightly spacey, pitch-perfect pop music.
The songs are deceptively simple, dominated by Hynes’s guitar and rich voice. The title track starts off with full harmonics and then pulls a reverse coda to a simple guitar line. When the melody kicks in, Hynes takes over the vocal and proceeds to orchestrate a mini-symphony that runs the gamut from pure pop to the more experimental end of the genre. “Galaxy of the Lost” lasts only four minutes, but it seems like a much longer song. Hynes fills the time with an almost overwhelming amount of images and sounds, challenging us to keep up.
The other songs are more conventional pop but still show flashes of brilliance. Hynes overlays his voice on “The Waiting Game” to good effect, creating a call and response with himself and then joining the disparate voices to deliver the chorus. The songs travel a wide area, though Hynes is careful to provide a bridge for the listener. Even when he kicks in an “Age of Aquarius” chorus on “The Flesh Failures” and delivers a slyly earnest rendition of “Xanadu” on the final track, Hynes doesn’t make a false step.