Reviews | The Internet | Hive Mind
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
As the name suggests, Hive Mind presents The Internet as the tightest they’ve ever been.
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. For many, Ego Death was the album that got them excited about The Internet. The band had finally learned how to lock in to the friendships that so obviously energized everything they created. Even the Grammys recognized their work with a nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album.
When the group then released a series of successful solo projects, some doubt arose as to whether they would ever regroup, or whether any regrouping would ever produce an album as good as Ego Death. Syd finally started getting radio play for her solo debut Fin, a seductive romp in the world of R&B-pop crossoverdom. It was exciting and fresh, but its frisk with mainstream popularity suggested the potential for superstardom without The Internet. Steve Lacy made waves with a thirteen-minute demo, landing spots on festival lineups across the globe. Each member released a record of their own. At the end of their hiatus, they played a tour entitled ‘The Internet Presents: The Internet’ where they played two-hour sets including music both from the group and from each member’s side projects. Despite the band’s drowsy persona, their show at The New Parish was the most exciting I saw that year.
However, Hive Mind is their most lively record yet. Taking on a quicker pace and on multiple tracks a latin groove, each song is light and danceable. Yet, behind the disguise of Syd’s feather-light vocal, each track is a punch to the gut. The driving bass in each song takes you on a winding journey, often taking unexpected turns with jam-band style grooves before you find yourself back at the chorus. It’s the kind of album that makes you wiggle in your seat without even realizing, step-tapping on the dance floor in your head. It’s playful and colorful and has a captivating intensity.
Despite Syd’s distinctive stoner’s drawl, her vocals take on a more mature tone as her storytelling becomes more precise. Expanded with layered harmonies, her bravado has transformed into adult self-assurance. She’s still concerned with fleeting romance but this time without the assistance of cliches. She’s now informed with the bitterness of loves lost. Lines like “I can turn you on with my dirty mind” roll off her tongue in an erotic slur, which is no surprise; Syd has never shied away from singing about sex. But when she sings “this ain’t just you, this ain’t your stage” she shows a new, more retrospective face, neither entirely sad nor angry but singed with the pain of having been wronged. Better yet, her swagger takes on its full form on ‘Look What U Started’, a seething post-breakup anthem. “Now you should ask yourself, was it worth it?” she coos, gazing down at a desperate ex from atop her metaphorical throne.
There’s sensitive moments, too. ‘Stay The Night’ hosts a near-whispering chorus, mixed so as to sound like Syd’s pleas echo from around the room. In it, she reaches out to an upset lover and asks for forgiveness, her voice resonating in a somber flow. ‘It Gets Better’, on the other hand, comforts an anonymous listener who struggles with the same depression Syd’s come forward about in her own life. Harps even find their way into the composition for “Wanna Be,” a song about courtship and vulnerability. For every upbeat moment there is a gentler one, too.
However, The Internet don’t lose steam in their slower moments, pulling the listener through all thirteen tracks with raw emotion and hypnotizing compositions. Though Syd’s performance is the most magnetic, the instrumentalists show up with synchronous charisma. At many points the overall effect is hypnotizing with the way musical phrases interlock; the sounds are unpredictably stimulating, and the storytelling is relatable without coming off cheesy. Hive Mind, as the name suggests, presents The Internet as the tightest they’ve ever been.