Since Odd Future’s break-up/postponement/hiatus/whatever you want to call it, every strand of the outfit has go out to make a statement of their own individuality, with both Tyler and Earl releasing fantastic solo albums this year. Now it’s the turn of Odd Future’s “in-house band” if you want to call it that, the neo-soul group “The Internet”, lead by OFWGKTA’s engineer Syd the Kyd and Matt Martians of Jet Age of Tomorrow.
Their latest offering “Ego Death” is simply beautiful. It fills that hazy space of being hungover in the sunshine lying in the grass, and walking late at night in the gentle breeze on an empty highway. Wishy-washy words aside, it’s to be experienced in your headphones in a serene environment, to truly capture its magnificence.
They’d been creating tight jazz-inflicted R&B, building their sound off previous efforts like “Purple” and “Feel Good”, and “Ego Death” is the most up to date version of their growth. More sultry, more ambitious, and their arrangements more complimentary than before, treading that line between sparse less-is-more and more complex rhythms with great ease.
Check the opener “Get Away”, with it’s waltzing bassline and drums dragging Syd’s delicate vocals along with it like a passionate storm into the bedroom, breaking down into some gorgeous chord phrasing and catchy hook “Money doesn’t fall from trees”. It’s a quick fix into what the album’s going to entail for you, being cut off by studio chatter before moving along into “Gabby” to give you a purposely scattered feel. The drunken movement of the album is more woozy in a pleasing sense than out of control.
“Gabby” itself really showcases the band ‘being a band’ as it were. They come out of hiding behind any type of drum machinery and sampling, sounding like a live studio jam with very raw rhythmic movements throughout and a special appearance from Janelle Monáe to cap it off.
These trends continue to work together throughout, with special guests littering the tipsy live feel the band bring to the table. “Go With It” features rising star Vic Mensa over starry-eyed guitars and keys, and standout track “Girl” features underground superstar Kaytranada lending a hand to production, with a seriously sex swing in it’s step and a chorus that just melts.
The Internet can bring some seriously interesting feelings to the table in their music, the instrumentation really brings out complicated emotions at times that are particularly visual.
Look at the outer-space funk of “Something’s Missing”. It brings a melding of Frank Ocean-esque melodies and Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home” drums that sounds deeply lonesome, as does similar companion “Penthouse Cloud”, with it’s sorrowful guitar leads sitting in an empty room away from the rest of the instruments, almost shy to show itself.
Along with it are the vocals. Lyrically, Syd’s songwriting is a spacious mix of cautionary tales covering romance, lost loves and one very clever envisioning of a modern-day Thelma & Louise in “Partners In Crime”, subtly working in her own sexual orientation and actually giving the story more body than it had previously.
Her quiet questioning of religion and black crime in America is almost like an infant asking it’s parent why their friend is dead at their funeral. Painful, because of the innocent and almost naive tone penetrating her words, something that puts her ahead of her Odd Future co-workers and really gives these songs weight.
Speaking of which, Tyler himself pops up on final track “Palace/Curse”, the low-fi Jekyll and Hyde piece that starts off as a strangely upbeat interlude before breaking apart into a slower, heavier piece dominated by a cracking bassline and distant church organs, finishing on a keys solo Roy Ayers would be proud of.
“Ego Death” is the singular astronaut, up in space spinning endlessly with a phenomenal view, yet the beauty is not enough to satisfy their soul. Wonderings of what is happening back on earth leave them lonely and anxious, with only the vague memories of human encounter keeping them relatively sane.
I’m really looking forward to what these guys bring out next.