After their rapturous return to the UK with their outstanding performance at Lovebox Festival in London last week, The Internet – the offshoot group from Odd Future which spawned the likes of Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean – have followed up their Grammy-nominated album Ego Death with Hive Mind. A sleek, delicious slice of summer, it’s an album that is sure to confirm them as one of the most exciting alternative r’n’b acts on the planet.
It’s a free-flowing, smooth as butter record that comes somewhat of a surprise from Ego Death’s more action-packed take on rhythm and blues. This, mostly, comes from production wizard Steve Lacy’s entire involvement in the band since joining them on a permanent basis back in 2015. Not only does he bring his soulful tones to much of the album but, having worked with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole and even being cited as “The next Pharrell Williams”, he gives Hive Mind its qualitative edge.
Like Odd Future, though, The Internet, and Hive Mind, truly feels like a collective project from back to front and start to finish. Indeed, leader and founder Syd stated that the title itself is, “A fitting nod to the headspace the group are collectively in: they’re only as strong as its unique personalities and talents.” There’s an open energy to the band, as if they’re doing exactly what they want to do, but it could go anywhere it wants to. It’s free, creative, and an absolute testament to the talent within the band.
There’s definitely a difference between Hive Mind and Ego Death and it more or less comes down to the lack of emphasis on Syd. Lead single ‘Roll (Burbank Funk)’ sees Steve Lacy take the forefront with a chorus of: “Catch stars up high / Hear your heart go on and on and on and on,” while perfectly accompanied by Syd’s gorgeous backing vocals. That’s not to say Syd is underplayed here, either, because her DNA is stamped onto pretty much every song on Hive Mind. Not only does she have a writing credit on 12 of the 13 tracks, but she’s got top billing on the finest song on the record, ‘Mood’, which evokes late-90s r’n’b with its convoluted drum pattern and silky smooth vocals.
The album continues to envelope and develop into a far slinkier, funkier record towards its climax too. ‘Look What U Started’, by far the biggest jam on the album, which evokes the beat and style of Kanye West and Jay Z’s ‘No Church in the Wild’, showcases an Ego Death style rhythm that gets closest to exhibiting their live prowess. Likewise, album closer ‘Hold On’, a six minute long behemoth, is a spiralling look into what The Internet do best: fluent, loose, and lackadaisical California funk that coils and escalates around your brain patterns with ease.
This is another evolution for The Internet. They’ve taken Ego Death’s delicious formula, worked cohesively as a unit and churned out a record that is funky, soulful, and brimming with consistency, intelligibility, and a sincere look at the creativity of the band. As introspective as their individual personalities, The Internet have brought out another quiet masterpiece.