Release Date: Jul 20, 2018
Record label: Columbia
Syd Tha Kid and her R&B cohorts put their heads together to create a towering achievement that combines Motown melodies with pop heartbreak Show LA R&B group The Internet a trend and they'll buck it. Give them a recipe for making pop records and the group's founders Odd Future cohorts Syd Tha Kid and Matt Martians will most likely toss in a bunch of sriracha sauce and nitroglycerin just to see what happens. So when it came to topping their Grammy nominated third album 'Ego Death', they were always going to give us something a little irregular.
You need to be seriously confident in yourself to pick something that's practically un-Googleable. But the gamble clearly worked for The Internet . Springing from the juggernaut that was Odd Future , this neo-soul splinter group has since snowballed into their own solid collective, helped in part by their fantastic 2015 breakthrough Ego Death. Their follow up, Hive Mind, is like watching a group of friends grab a few beers, take their instruments out onto their terrace and jam as the sun sets on the world and life continues to bustle away below.
"They gon' get us to / Come together." So goes the mantra at the very beginning of Hive Mind, Los Angeles collective The Internet's first album since the breakthrough of 2015's GRAMMY-nominated third LP, Ego Death. It's a fitting opener, as Hive Mind also marks the reunion of its members--Syd (vocalist/songwriter), Matt Martians (producer), Steve Lacy (guitarist/vocalist/songwriter), Patrick Paige II (songwriter/bassist), and Christopher Smith (songwriter/drummer)--who took advantage of the time between albums to dive into projects and collaborations of their own. As always, the vibe here is bound to be crowd-pleasing; an intelligent, studied mix of funk, hip-hop, R&B, and jazz textures.
The Internet had their big breakthrough with 2015's spaced-out hip-hop soul epic Ego Death and with its Grammy nomination, they entered into a new echelon where the Miguels and the Weeknds of the world reside. Then, near the peak of their power as an R&B band smudging the lines between rap and funk and jazz, they separated last year to focus on individual projects. It was a curious decision for a group that had been steadily building momentum for five years, having finally solidified its core creative lineup: The Internet started as a refuge for Odd Future also-rans Syd and Matt Martians and across three increasingly better albums came to include bassist Patrick Paige II, drummer Christopher Smith, and singer-songwriter-producer Steve Lacy.
At first listen, the jazz-inflected bedroom R&B of the Internet’s fourth album, Hive Mind, isn’t far removed from that of the Los Angeles band’s prior work. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Matt Martians still specializes in sun-kissed, slightly offbeat neo-neo-soul, laying down lush blankets of sound for singer Sydney Bennett, a.k.a. Syd, to luxuriate in.
The Lowdown: The fourth full-length studio album from The Internet and the band's first release independent of the Odd Future imprint, Hive Mind is an almost seamless follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2015 album, Ego Death . They best the previous effort with full-bodied production and cleaner, more-focused writing. The Good: Each of the band members' respective solo projects served as fertile ground for the creation of Hive Mind , fostering the individual growth necessary to produce a well-balanced and explicitly confident group project after three solid formal albums that did more to showcase their ability to serve as keepers of the minimal funk pop flame than to push their work into new and exhilarating sonic territory.
The retro jazz grooves which open The Internet's new record on 'Come Together' throw you straight into the funky world the band inhabit. It's as smooth as a bar of dairy milk. The bass lines roll as the vocals grow to a crescendo and then slowly wash out again. It's a solid statement of intent for this record that The Internet are back and still have some of the best beats around.
What does it mean to be young, gifted and black in 2018? The Internet might have an idea. The Los Angeles band are a thoroughly modern project; pro-LGBT, mixed-gender and sustained by a large online following, and their music, a brand of neo-neo-soul, draws from a long history of African-American music. Their latest album, Hive Mind, sees them return with renewed confidence and collective ambition, after a year spent working on solo material.
Ego Death raised the Internet's standing outside and inside the music industry. It hit the Top Ten of the R&B/hip-hop chart and was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Urban Contemporary Album. Amid a slew of solo projects varying in size and scope, keyboardist Jameel Bruner left the band, but the five remaining members eventually reunified, as was the plan, to make the fourth Internet album on the east and west coasts and in England and Australia.
The Internet's story never slows down. Their first album, marking Syd (formerly Syd Tha Kyd) and Matt Martian's departure from Odd Future, was interesting yet disjointed. Their second was more cohesive but still lacking in direction, devoid of any defining intention. By their third album, Ego Death, The Internet made a breakthrough, finally tying together each musician's distinctive style.
Rating: NNNN It's been three years since The Internet released their last album, Ego Death, but it feels like they've never really been away. Aside from that album's slow-burning staying power, each member of the now five-piece band have released solo projects of their own in the interim, with lead singer/producer/engineer Syd making the biggest splash with her solo effort Fin and various collaborations (including tracks with Canadians Kaytranada and Daniel Caesar). Having flexed their experimental indulgences, the collective is back under their SEO-unfriendly moniker.