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Lightspeed Champion: 10 Minutes of Reinvention

In his work as Lightspeed Champion — named for a hero of comic books he wrote while in high school — Devonte Hynes showcases a different sound than he ever played as a member of the abrasive Test Icicles. Sincere and sweeping vocal arrangements announce that he's inventively recast himself, but this is no one-man side project: Members of Bright Eyes, The Faint, Cursive, Tilly and the Wall, and Son, Ambulance helped craft the album Falling Off the Lavender Bridge and its 10-minute opus "Midnight Surprise."

Wielding an acoustic guitar, Hynes guides listeners through a three-part composition, flush with a galaxy of delicate string arrangements and lyrical vulnerability — no easy feat for a musician whose last band was notorious for its hip-hop and thrash (in)sensibilities. But as deceptively tender as "Midnight Surprise" may be, the sonic sunniness of Lightspeed Champion demonstrates that change is for the sake of progress, not just ambition.

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Chantal de la Rionda