Branching off from Odd Future in 2011, The Internet has always been a markedly different group from their parent act.
While Odd Future was always a frenetic hip-hop ensemble featuring the stylings of Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, The Internet focused on slower, groovier R&B.
Lead singer Syd — who’s the older sister of Odd Future rapper Taco — has one of the smoothest, sultriest voices in R&B right now. I always get excited when I hear her on a track.
So you can only imagine how excited I was for The Internet’s fourth full-length record, “Hive Mind.” Thankfully, the band exceeded my expectations.
While I’ve enjoyed the band’s previous albums, there was always something undefinable about them that put me off. The group just felt somehow unfocused, having tight ideas, but meandering a little too far from them as the songs progressed.
That’s not the case on “Hive Mind.” Everything feels so purposeful.
From the opening moments of the record, it’s clear that this record is going to be something special. The Internet gleefully pulls from a variety of sounds, with album opener “Come Together” easily recalling the artistry of jazz giant Kamasi Washington, before shifting into a more funk-focused R&B on tracks like “Come Over.”
But things are kept fun and freewheeling throughout. While “Come Over” starts out with a sultry, standard R&B, it ends with a coda that recalls the oddball sensibilities of bassist Thundercat.
The record is all over the place in a way that’s breezy and interesting. It’s refreshing to hear R&B music that can easily stand among genre greats like Marvin Gaye and D’Angelo but also doesn’t lean too heavily on the past.
The Internet, like their name implies, is firmly rooted in the present time, with much of their sound being inspired by hip-hop and rap. While this is the least hip-hopy of the band’s releases, the style still lightly infuses the record, with some songs having a rapped part — even though the closing of “It Gets Better (With Time)” gets closer to a very emotional spoken word section.
“Hive Mind” is truly a beautiful record, thanks to Syd’s georgeous, rich voice. “Hive Mind” is smooth, sensual, smart and fun, without ever dipping into the hypersexualized traps the genre often delves into.
Get to this one soon. It’s a breath of fresh air.