The Internet has always tried to be ambitious and creative, but to their plight, it hasn’t always worked for them. Their debut, Purple Naked Ladies saw an effective and refreshing outlook on synth-funk and R&B but ultimately sank due to Syd’s uninspired vocal moments and the lacklustre song structure. Feel Good, their sophomore release, was a wholesome attempt at truly embodying a band, and they may have had a couple home runs with certain singles, but ultimately the album’s “experimentation” just made for some stale, humdrum album filler. But throughout these records and the various loosies, features and EP’s in between, there has always been promise. The band, lead by Matt Martians and his animated chord-based production has generally been impressive and came into their own when they toured with Mac Miller, subsequently producing a stellar live album Live From Space that breathed new life into Mac’s album Watching Movies With the Sound Off and live albums as a whole. Syd, too, has always had a tremendously flavourful and awe-inspiring voice, one that is equal parts sweet and raspy, and one that can fluctuate between an array of ranges. With their latest colourful record, Ego Death, The Internet has not only finally found a sweet-spot, but it’s also found an identity—one far from the realms of being just an Odd Future spawn band.
Instead, Ego Death places The Internet in the frontrunners of pop-R&B contention by reaching into the corners of funk and fusion-jazz. ‘Special Affair’ is a great example, one that sports a weighty bass-line driving sweet and sultry vocals as Syd tempts and seduces a subject of her choosing. ‘Under Control’ flutters along with thin, bouncing drum patterns and a very jazzy guitar riff and dancing clavs. Syd shines again with a choppy, conversational flow that employs a very matter-of-fact storytelling style that is bold yet compelling. Even the album intro, ‘Get Away’ wastes no time getting into the nitty-gritty of this new, sexy, coarse Internet that lends a hand to early Pharrell songwriting styles—the ‘Frontin’ kind that seductively begged for female energy. It’s the execution of these styles that the Internet would have been troubled with previously, but Syd has seemingly found a pocket on every track here with the band rarely missing a step.
The features aren’t to shabby either—the Vic Mensa flanked ‘Go With It’ sees Vic flowing continuously, de-railing and offbeat at times but ultimately thriving over the funky beat before Syd comes in to croon infectiously like she does. ‘Girl’ hits a little deeper and with a different wobble courtesy of Kaytranada spinning a new direction on The Internet’s funk. Syd rides the beat and is able to churn out a refreshing, spacy cut that is perfect for midnight seduction, or an H&M commercial. The legendary, Dungeon Family-approved queen Janelle Monáe lends her voice to a rockier, contagious groove in ‘Gabby’—easily one of the brightest, inspiring, and enjoyable moments on the album. ‘Palace/Curse’ features Tyler, the Creator’s new found knack for runs and melodies he toyed with on Cherry Bomb, while Tyler also narrates a house party in a very fun and retro fashion. It’s ambitious and it pays off, serving as a daring and brazen outRo.
Even though you can guess that Syd is crooning romance-fuelled lullabies on every track, the substance here is not ankle-deep. Tracks are subject to burst into different melodies and runs just before they expire, and Syd is also prone to appear flawed and vulnerable showing every angle of lust and desire, and even the self-destructive tendencies that come with these sentiments. At it’s core, Ego Death maintains the balance of having catchy pop melodies equipped with personable and relatable lyrics that open up a little more of Syd’s personal emotions rather than flaunting surface level songwriting as if it was profound. The Internet bask and roll in erotica, while playing with influences that stretch from The Neptunes to D’Angelo, all with a modern and current exterior.
Ego Death is spunky and spirited, and ultimately is the best project The Internet has ever put out. It glows and thrives throughout, and is surprisingly striking without a bland moment in between. If you’re a fan of instrumentation, the beats here are rich enough to keep you guessing and more than entertained—and if you’re a fan of old-fashioned melody, Syd has never been more excellent at treading the lines of moody and relatable, all while being inexplicably erotic. Long gone are the days of The Internet awkwardly trying to carve a place for themselves in modern R&B, as with Ego Death, they have swooped in and snatched their own spot among music’s elite—and they probably snatched your girl, too.