All posts by vikashdass

Album Review: GO:OD AM | Mac Miller

BY VIKASH DASS

Let’s start off with a little truth: Mac Miller can be credited with the biggest 180° concerning credibility in modern hip-hop history. Not only did he sonically relinquish the fraternity bro-rap sounds of his former years and venture into experimental, drugged out, potent hip-hop, Mac Miller also grew into one of the best producers of the past couple years, working on his own music as well as others. His studio back at his old mansion in the LA area is attributed to the growth and stimulation of the upswing of many rap careers. When Mac wasn’t swinging his own home-runs with his individual projects under different monikers to denote differing genres, he was producing for and collaborating with other people, making incredible moments with guys like Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples, and even Future.

However, Mac Miller’s crowing achievement and his greatest project to date was 2014’s Faces, an eerie yet bizarrely entertaining ride down the tunnels of the famed male ego. This mixtape starts with a hot burn and sizzles to an increasingly depressing, emotive and touching end, content wise bleeding dry the nitty gritty of Mac’s recent journey with drugs, depression, and musical madness. Fast forward to today, and Mac’s got a cash-induced glow about him coming off the heels of a $10 Million deal with Warner Brothers after being the indie-rap mascot for ages, he’s got a girlfriend, a cat, and on the very first song off his brand new album released just days ago, he declares, “I’m not saying that i’m sober, i’m just in a better place.” That place is the universe of GO:OD AM, his second full length studio effort that is his most crisp, lush, and polished record yet.

The title and theme touches on a few things, but mainly alludes to Mac being woke, following what one could assume to be one of the darkest periods of his life. Mac’s message is loud and clear on this one, that he’s awake and he’s ready to put his past behind him. We are lulled into a dream state with one of the prettiest, most serene Tyler, the Creator beats we’ve ever heard and Mac touching his lightest notes on ‘Doors’, which then spears right into the real intro and our first slapper on the record, ‘Brand Name’. It cleverly begins with the sound of an alarm clock, and trembles with a bouncy baseline until Mac unfolds it with bars about happiness, materialism, and his self-made nature.

The precedent for the sonics on this record have already been set—hugely vast, pure, and slamming instrumentals. If you’re searching for the dark, murky, sample heavy instrumentals of his producer-extraordinaire alter ego Larry Fisherman, you’ll be sorely discouraged—Mac doesn’t touch the boards on a single song on this album. Instead, he distances himself from his last group of projects all produced by him by reaching out to worthy replacements like ID Labs, DJ Dahi, FKi, THC and Christian Rich. This adds a refreshing diversity to the record, with softer, floating tracks like ‘ROS’ and ‘Ascension’ being able to seamlessly coexist with bruising bangers like ‘Cut the Check’ assisted by Chief Keef, and ‘When in Rome’. The former sees both Mac and the Chicago-drill legend rhyme with incredible precision and effectiveness, with one of Keef’s most audible, coherent and sensical verses yet.

The album is incredibly sobering and reflective while also playing the role of the major label debut. There is enough accessibility with tracks like a surefire pop favourite ‘Weekend’ with Miguel, and then there’s enough obscurity and bars within the cuts like the very based collaboration ‘Time Flies’ and ‘Two Matches’ with Ab-Soul. Mac is most impressive though when he attempts to incorporate this dichotomy on a single song, with a track like ‘Clubhouse’ being a perfect example. It’s catchy enough and repetitive enough to get stuck in a passerby’s ear, while also being satisfactory from a strictly lyrical perspective. Lead single ‘100 Grandkids’ plays a similar role with a theatrical introduction and a menacing beat switch as it turns into a polished trap banger before it fizzles out. While it’s not a continuation of the emotional vulnerability we were swept off our feet by in Faces or the obscure, drugged out psychedelic sound of Watching Movies, this album appropriately sounds like the hazy, half asleep raps of Mac’s recent projects have woken up with a sobering, caffeinated bounce.

GO:OD AM has a little bit of everything for everyone—it’s bouncy and airy enough to be set next to his bro-rap past, it’s not completely sober enough be removed from his last few psychedelic projects, and it’s refreshing enough to be a mark of progression for young Malcolm. It attacks fame, money and bitches with a rearview mirror outlook rather than being suffocated with his vices, and offers all kinds of variety with delicate ballads, gliding cloud-raps, and hints of Heatmakerz and Dipset charged bangers. Major label Mac is nothing to be afraid of—instead, it’s a pleasant surprise that Mac has been able to master the balance of pop relevancy and hip-hop credibility. This is Mac’s hardest right hook he’s ever thrown, and it’s definitely a knockout. For those still sleeping on Eazy Mac: It’s time to wake up and smell the damn coffee.

8.7

EP Review: Four Pink Walls | Alessia Cara

Ego Death
BY VIKASH DASS

Not too long ago, liking pop music was lame. I can recall various moments from my childhood where I was anguished and fussing with dials in the car, shooting off statements denouncing pop music and it’s relationship with radio targeting it’s saturated, uninspired nature. Radio represented the popular opinion, and was an algorithmic machine that responded to and replayed the music that would have the highest chance of people keeping that station on—an attribute that makes terrestrial radio a constant target for criticism. Although the analytics of radio haven’t really changed, artists like 19-year old Alessia Cara, who we had the pleasure of speaking with last month, are pushing the quality of the content forward, making sure that radio in 2015 is the most diverse and the most inspiring it’s ever been. A simple glance at the top charts on iTunes will prove to you that popular music is not what is was, and chances are you’ll see songs like Alessia Cara’s ‘Here’, her inaugural single for Def Jam.

‘Here’ represents every ounce of merit in my words above. It’s a song that deviates from any pop-precedents, whether you choose to focus on the strange sample, the rant-y, avant garde flow, or the lyrics about ironically being stranded in a mob. ‘Here’ is an anti-party anthem that boosts the ideals of the introvert, as Alessia picks apart her unfortunate experience at your average party. The party itself isn’t exactly the problem, as there’s nothing really out of the ordinary being depicted—it’s just that Alessia’s own personal definition of bliss is not in an intoxicated haze, but rather in the confines of her own room, or around people she actually knows, doing things she actually likes.

Her debut EP Four Pink Walls reflects this isolation and reclusiveness, as the title itself is a tribute to her bedroom walls growing up where she would indolently aspire to be the things the she is now. The song ‘Four Pink Walls’ elaborates further, with lines like “I assumed there was only room for my dreams in my dreams so I’d sleep and repeat ’til the moon went home”,  before diving into the booming chorus, “Then the universe aligned, with what I had in mind, who knew there was a life behind those four pink walls” proving and manifesting that Alessia’s place of mental refuge also happened to be the place her talent and stardom was honed and perfected. Reflection and retrospect are integral components of this project, as Alessia often employs the benefits of hindsight to boast added wisdom on the topics at hand. ‘Seventeen’ sonically hits like a pop-anthem reminiscent of recent Taylor Swift joints, but it lyrically nods to the advice our parents give us in our teenage years—advice we’d later look at and understand from a more developed perspective. It’s hard to believe Alessia Cara didn’t write original music prior to her material released through Def Jam, as through solely leaning on her own experiences and collaborative guidance from decorated writer Sebastian Kole she has already developed  poignant, original, and opinionated perspectives within her music.

Standout song ‘Outlaws’ flaunts Alessia’s pen in the most impressive ways, as she exhibits the ability to not only say something with her music, but to tell you something. She simultaneously bobs and weaves through chords with a sweet, tender melody while also slowly unfolding a bubbly and emotive infatuation with a love interest. The metaphors and practically visual sense of storytelling will remind you of writers like Frank Ocean or Ed Sheeran. ‘I’m Yours’ is similarly vivid and robust in imagery, but it’s a little less spirited and a little more fragile. Alessia shrivels into a vulnerable subject of someone else’s impeding love, as she feels helpless in succumbing to these imminent, foreign emotions.

The song structure here is far from experimental and nothing to marvel at, but the tracks given to us on this EP impose their profoundness on the stories being told. With Four Pink Walls, Alessia Cara is able to flawlessly carve her own stories into a familiar lane and keep us invested. With the other pop-princesses coexisting with Alessia putting out records about substance-induced elation, Four Pink Walls offers the story of the teenage wallflower finding solace in solitude. Although this five-track project is meant to be a prelude to Alessia’s giant album coming this Fall, she’s already made us feel like we know her well, and she’s already changed the climate of pop music in 2015—for the better.

8.4

Kanye West Receives Video Vanguard Award At MTV VMAs, Announces Presidency Run For 2020

BY TER STAFF

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

So that just happened.

As expected, Kanye West received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award Sunday night at the VMAs to a roaring crowd and none other than Taylor Swift presenting the award. In Kanye’s legendary acceptance speech, he talked about being high, standing up for artistry, and also announced his intentions to run for presidency in the year 2020.

No, we’re not making that up. Watch Kanye’s full speech below.

Album Review: Beauty Behind the Madness | The Weeknd

BY VIKASH DASS
BY VIKASH DASS

Once upon a time, The Weeknd was poised to be indie-R&B’s most grim and gloomy figure with the release of his moody and ominous mixtapes, later to be repackaged and referred to simply as Trilogy. Instead of lingering in this unique, more sinister take on traditional R&B, the last few years have seen The Weeknd drive towards a more accessible style. His studio debut, Kiss Land was sonically ambitious, foreign, and luxe, but fell flat due to it’s uninspired lyrics and lack of conceptual depth. It became clear that Abel was trying to ditch his callous, sexually explicit themes to head down lyrical avenues that offered more emotional depth, but on Kiss Land, it culminated into a diluted, impotent version of his opus mixtapes. On his second studio album, Beauty Behind The Madness, The Weeknd has successfully pivoted into an effective, full-out pop lane, and although the record will boldly translate into radio formats and the masses, the core of the lengthy record will still come across noticeably hollow.

Continue reading Album Review: Beauty Behind the Madness | The Weeknd

Interview: Jazz Cartier Talks Marauding In Paradise, Live Show, and New Music

BY VIKASH DASS

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

You probably don’t know a whole lot about 22-year old Jazz Cartier, and that’s by design. His presence in music seemingly cumulated at light-speed after the release of his aggressive and poignant debut project, Marauding In Paradise, an intricate and tightly-bound sixteen track free album that explores the ideas of being youthful and comfortably close to death within the confines of Downtown Toronto, and, a record that was brought to life in a festival setting for the first time last weekend in Squamish. Sonically, Jazz is able to find an anomalous balance between poetic, love driven lyrics over electronic sounds as well as maddening words placed upon bass-heavy trap bangers, courtesy of his in house producer, Micheal Lantz. The result is equal parts deafening and touching, as Jazz embraces the schizophrenic tendencies of his true self playing a scorned lover at one moment, and an unhinged street-rat the next. 

Although there’s beauty and profoundness in Jazz’s reflective tendencies on Marauding in Paradise, it’s that latter, more ignorant side of Jazz’s music that fans come to see. Squamish Valley Music Festival might have only given him 30 minutes, but there were plenty of people walking away saying it was the best set of the weekend. If multiple pits weren’t organically opening up before the drops on songs, Jazz was orchestrating the crowd himself, and even leaping into the crowd to be apart of it all. “That aggression, that vibe, it all came from the studio,” Jazz explains. “When me and Lantz make songs of that caliber, we just try to capture that vibe first”.

Jazz’s studio process is not one that’s manufactured towards any certain feeling or sound, though. As I ask about what really goes into a regular studio session for him and his right hand, Michael Lantz, he makes it clear that it starts as more of an organic relationship as opposed to a  synthetic, work-based one. “We’re usually in the studio everyday, and it starts with him asking me how i’m doing and me asking him how he’s doing,” he says. Jazz then outlines a somewhat unorthodox and interesting method of working between him and Lantz where based on the mood and Jazz’s own specific feelings or emotions, Lantz will cater his production and beat selection towards aligning his own sounds with whatever is going on in Jazz’s head. “That’s where a lot of that aggressiveness comes from, just being inside and being cooped up with these cold ass beats. It almost brings it out of you,” Jazz reveals.

You wouldn’t know it from sitting across from him, but Jazz never had a reason to leave his hometown prior to music. “Before tours, i’d never left Toronto,” he says after i’d asked him if he’d visited Vancouver before. “Now i’m finally becoming a full-Canadian”. Jazz’s extreme devotion to his city is something that is alluded to frequently in his music and is a result of not knowing any other circumstance. He’s also got moments in his music where he questions the credibility and merits of his fellow Toronto artists, most notably on ‘The Downtown Cliche’, where Jazz scorns those within his city who claim the glory and spoils of a downtown lifestyle without actually living it. Jazz raps, “n*ggas created a dream, within a city where I’m never sleeping”, and continually fact-checks those who have to drive into Downtown Toronto to experience it, rather than Jazz who hasn’t left.

This dynamic Jazz plays within his city intrigues me, not just in a personal, living space, but within the music as well. Jazz Cartier is hands down one of the most popular up and coming artists out of Toronto, but is in no way affiliated with the biggest imprint out of that city, OVO Sound. That might not sound like much, but the reality is, when people not from Toronto talk about the city’s uprising and new sound, very few mention an artist that isn’t signed or affiliated with Drake and his label. “I’m not expecting anything from anybody, and when Drake was coming up, he wasn’t expecting anything from anybody as well. When Drake came up, there was no Drake,” says Jazz, revelling in his autonomy.  Jazz’s pride and sense of independence in the game is not only a dismissal of the perceived gatekeepers and tastemakers of his city, but it also evokes this emotion and energy that Jazz and his team don’t owe anybody but themselves for their success.

Jazz Cartier is doing pretty damn good on his own, though, as the Polaris Prize-nominated project Marauding in Paradise is without a doubt one of the strongest and boldest releases of 2015 thus far. With the benefits of retrospect, Jazz is able to reflect positively on his first impressions on the world. “It was me being as personal as possible, letting out my frustrations and not hiding anything. There is an art behind it. I’m just trying to not cater to anyone and just make the best music possible,” he says.  The music backs it up, too. Nothing on Paradise sounds forced or manufactured, and it’s free-flowing and personable in the best ways. “First impressions are everything. I just feel like personality goes a long way,” reflects Jazz.

But, Jazz also makes it clear to me that we might not have to wait too long for more music, as he passively mentions the existence of a completed, free body of work that he’s sitting on. “The second project is already done. I can press the button whenever, you know what i’m saying?” As I poke and prod, Jazz remains tight-lipped about the sonics and lyrical content of this next project, only using one word to describe it: “progression”. We’ll take it, Jazz.

Interview: Alessia Cara Talks New EP and Drake Sliding Into Her DMs at Squamish

BY VIKASH DASS

alessiacara
Courtesy of The FADER

Moments after the beautiful 19-year old Alessia Cara blessed the stage at Squamish Valley Music Festival on Saturday, among the piercing screams and thunderous applause, a strangely sweaty onlooker beside me tapped my shoulder and said, “She is f-cking amazing. Who is she?” I immediately filled him in, and watched his face light up as he tapped her name into his notes on his iPhone, only to ask moments later, “How do you spell that?” Moments like those are all collateral of Alessia, currently occupying a strange place in music. She might possess one of the most incredible, refreshing voices in pop, yet she only has one single under her name.

The sullen and petulant ‘Here’ was most of the world’s introduction to Alessia Cara and is the ultimate anti-party banger that delivers and astounds on plenty of levels. Her explosive voice made famous through her YouTube-famed covers of pop favorites cuts through the track and is equal parts sugary-sweet and dominant, the Issac Hayes sampling instrumental offers a retro nod to an 80’s classic while feeling modern and ballroom-chic, but hands down the most impressive component of Alessia’s first original offering to the universe is her writing. Alessia flawlessly places the listener into her gone-sour party experience while flowing with a relentlessness and shine reminiscent of a rapper. No, really. In contrast to the formulaic and nursery-rhymed pop hits that usually consume radio, Alessia Cara utilized a timely flow that sounds more like a rant or stream of consciousness and just when you feel that she’s about to run about of breath, she masterfully steps back and slaps you with a wave of tender melodies.

Few artists get to where Alessia Cara currently is, and frankly, even fewer do what she is about to do. The Canadian songstress is poised to stun and woo the masses with her eclectic, genre-blending debut EP Four Pink Walls dropping August 28th through Def Jam Records, and a full length album to follow shortly in the Fall. With #AlessiaSeason in full effect, I was lucky enough to talk to her over the phone just days after watching her tear down the stage.

Alessia comes across self-aware and not afraid to speak her mind, but she is also a remarkably gentle young woman who fully comprehends the surreal nature of her position. “It’s really, really awesome,” she replies, when I bring up her decision to tour her unreleased material around the world. “I already have people telling me their my fans and enjoying my songs and singing my lyrics,” she adds with disbelief. “I never expected it to be like this and this soon.”

It might feel soon, but in reality, she’s been racking up respectable amounts of views on her YouTube videos she’s been posting since she was thirteen. Most of them are covers of hit songs with her strumming away at a guitar and belting out notes in front of a webcam, while others are videos of her interacting with her fanbase and showcasing the same coy, soft-spoken girl I was on the phone with. With that said, YouTube views aren’t exactly as effective as a measure of success in the same way festival stages and chart-topping singles are. “I’m really new, so I think a lot of people don’t know who I am yet” she admits, acknowledging her unique position.

“I’m just trying to make good first impressions and play songs I think people will enjoy.”

As the release date of her first ever project creeps closer, Alessia finds solace and plenty of thrills in performing songs people don’t even know yet. “It’s good to have some upbeat stuff that people can at least dance to” she says. “If they can’t sing along, I might as well try and get them pumped up in different ways.”

Four Pink Walls is a project with a title that reflects the isolation and detachment experienced in her childhood bedroom. With songs like ‘Here’ and the live previews I was able to take in, it seems as though Alessia’s music on this EP will continue to narrate the trials and tribulations of being a thoughtful, reclusive teenager with a lot to say. “Lyrically, I guess it’s really wordy,” she reveals. “I don’t know, I guess I just like fitting as many words into a song as possible.” 

Of all the things I had read about her process crafting her album and EP, the most interesting anecdote was her work with Malay Ho, a producer known for crafting the sonic landscapes and producing a majority of one of the greatest, most renowned albums in modern history, Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE.

“I’m a huge Frank Ocean fan and that album was amazing, and in getting to meet him I got to ask him questions and go inside the thought process behind the album.” she says. Alessia continued to break down the two songs they conceived with a feverish sense of excitement. “One of them is called ‘Wild Things’ that i’ve performed acoustically before, but the produced-out version is my favorite because it’s huge and it’s like, an anthem.” The other record, ‘Stone’, is described by Alessia as an “awesome guitar based ballad” that demonstrates Malay’s versatility. “I got to spend a good chunk of time with him in the studio,” she boasts. “It wasn’t like in-and-out, it was like, really working together.”

Alessia is remarkably strategic and ambitious about the days ahead of her. When asked about following up her smash hit, she is quick to throw away the concept of catering to anyone or anything. “I don’t ever like to try to make a hit or write a ‘next single’,” she explains.

“I just try to be completely honest and make songs that I would like first of all because I think those are the ones that resonate the most.”

As she prepares to drop two projects before the year’s end, the balance of impact and longevity is something Alessia has her sights set on. As she strives to create bodies of work that will speak to her generation, she isn’t afraid to admit that she looks to great albums of the past as a blueprint, specifically citing her love for fellow Ontario-native Drake’s modern classic, Take Care.

“I mean, you remember the singles, but it’s not like you remember it for the number one singles. You think, ‘Drake had an amazing, classic album,’”  says Alessia. “That’s what I want it to be. It’s really about making it a project and a body of work rather than just a whole bunch of singles or a whole bunch of songs that are just forced together and call it an album.” It’s moments like this that open my eyes to how methodical and serious Alessia is about her craft. She’s not just in this to be the talk of the blogosphere for a couple months. She doesn’t just want the song of the summer. She isn’t just on some “happy to be here” mentality. She is fixated on the idea of legacy and affecting the world with quality, brilliant music.

Drake and Alessia Cara

Alessia’s appreciation for Drake has been well documented and has evolved into a running-gag in most of her previous interviews as she’s called him out repeatedly and pleaded for them to have an interaction. Hilariously enough, I was originally supposed to interview Alessia in person at Squamish, but a wrench was thrown in her schedule when she was randomly blessed with a  DM from the 6 God himself moments before he took the stage, resulting in their first, much anticipated encounter.

“So, I’ve called him out and stalked him,” she explains, giggling. “I was sitting around waiting for his performance, and I just get a DM, casually, from Drake!” She goes on to tell me her frantic reactions which involve her having a heart attack and question life itself. As the DM informs her that someone is coming to get her, she proceeds to freak out some more and she impersonates the OVO crew member that came to get her, comically butchering her name saying, “Are you Alicia?”

After our many pauses of laughter and incessant giggles, she walks me through the process of wading through security and ultimately approaching his trailer to which Drake emerged and voiced his enthusiasm to meet her. “It was the best 5 minutes of my life”, she reflects, but it was probably pretty awesome for Drake too. After all, he had just met one of music’s most promising voices in a very, very long time.

Purchase Alessia Cara’s single ‘Here’ and look out for her Four Pink Walls EP released August 28th through Def Jam Recordings.

Album Review: Currents | Tame Impala

BY VIKASH DASS
BY VIKASH DASS

Tame Impala’s excellent first two records, Innerspeaker and Lonerism found Kevin Parker portrayed as a reclusive prisoner of his own imagination amongst sounds funnelled from the 60’s and 70’s that sounded like remastered vinyl cuts from long ago. It was a bold and untravelled path, but as the entire music world took notice of Tame Impala’s imaginative lane, music seemed to latch on to this faux-psychedelia sound and emulated and copied the blueprint until “psychedelic” aspects of music seemed to bleed across all genres. With Tame Impala’s latest release, Currents, Kevin finds himself stepping outdoors and exploring the beauties and horrors of human interaction, all while transitioning to a more electronic revamp of their past, established sound—and again, Tame Impala has struck gold.

Continue reading Album Review: Currents | Tame Impala

Lana Del Rey drops title track off upcoming album, “Honeymoon”

BY TER STAFF

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

After months of tortuous teasing from Lana Del Rey, she has finally decided to drop the single, and the album’s title track, “Honeymoon”.

The single is a slow and swelling six minute burn that floats along sweet and serene strings. Staying in her breathy, whispery pocket, it seems she is continuing the departure of her more pop-friendly sound carved out on her first album Born To Die, as this new track sonically sounds more akin to her last full length LP, Ultraviolence.

Look for her new album Honeymoon to be out this September and listen to the new single with the same name below.

Is Frank Ocean About to Premiere New Music in the Upcoming Movie ‘Southpaw’? [UPDATED]

BY TER STAFF

Photo by Blake Ponto/HYPETRAK
Photo by Blake Ponto/HYPETRAK

A new Jake Gyllenhaal boxing-themed blockbuster is about to hit theatres on July 24th, but something else even more exciting might be coming our way along with the film.

On the website ‘Letterboxd’, users are able to post reviews for films and filmmaker and reviewer James Healey posted  some very interesting information not only regarding the film, but about a new Frank Ocean song that appears at the end of the film. Read his review below.

“Southpaw is going to be one of the biggest blockbusters of the summer. Jake Gyllenhaal is phenomenal, giving a heart breaking performance. The film is very depressing and a bit manipulative, but overall incredibly touching and made me cry a lot. The plot is formulaic and predictable at times but still enjoyable. Use of color during matches is fucking beautiful. The action is so good, POV shots look so fucking cool. The worst thing Southpaw does is HEAVILY over scoring, but at least there is a new Frank Ocean song at the end.

Wait, what?! Healey might have just informed the world that new music from the one and only Frank Ocean is included in the film, which means that either a new song is going to be exclusively premiered in the film, or, we might even get new music before then and the usage of the song would be used promotionally. Frank Ocean has already teased new music coming this month with a photo he posted on his website back in April with the hashtags underneath it reading “#ALBUM3” and “#JULY2015”.

The music for the film has already been well publicized due to Eminem and Shady Records executive producing it, but a new Frank Ocean track would only add to the hype. Whatever it is, any news regarding new music from Frank Ocean is good news, and we’ve never been more ready.

Peep the trailer for ‘Southpaw’ below, in theatres July 24.

UPDATE: It seems as though the Frank Ocean track included in the movie may be the previously released “Wiseman”. Check out the tweet below.

Album Review: Ego Death | The Internet

Ego Death
BY VIKASH DASS

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.

8.2