The Internet – Hive Mind
With their fourth album release, The Internet have really solidified themselves as a leading force in the Neo-soul movement. In their past releases, The Internet had more of it’s focus in electronic-sounding production, along with other modern pop/hip-hop musical influences in their music; we could blatantly see tracks that are more hip-hop, tracks that are more just electro, and so on. However, on “Hive Mind,” the band really dives deeper in a overall more pure funk and soul kind of sound, which I couldn’t be more than happy to hear.
One thing that is true about The Internet, which I always appreciate, is their ability to change their from sound, particularly on this album – and not just how some bands do, to try and cash-in on a popular fad or craze, but to change in a way that the band wants to do for their own purely artistic urges. I feel like The Internet have created a very relate-able, groovy, and overall sexy soul album, that has just enough modern production touches to help keep their sound distinct and accessible to both the modern pop-listener crowd, and the more strictly soul and funk crowds. We saw light elements of this shift starting in Ego-death, which was significantly more upbeat but still carried blatant elements of funk music, and the result is a beautiful entry in the Neo-soul/funk landscape.
Starting off with “Come Together”, we have what seems like a straight 1970’s style track, with that entrancing bass playing, straight up funk beat and instrumentation, light and beautiful synth notes lingering in the back; the vibe is incredibly recreated, and I love it. We roll into “Burbank Funk”, with that classic sound we all should remember.
Next on the tracklist we have the sleek, sexy, and pure funk “Come Over”, which while it’s purpose and lyrical depth is pretty basic, the vibe and and sound is just so damn solid, I don’t even really mind. Not to mention, the vocalist sounds the better on this album then on any other release involving her – she was always one of the weaker aspects of the band, always sounding a bit awkward or off, but distinctive in also some positive way, also. Seems here the band really figured out how to not only craft catchy, memorable, groovy songs, but also how to combine everything. vocals included, properly in the mix.
While I am aware of the vibe/style that “La Di Da” was going for, I feel like the song is kindof wobbly and fumbling around, instrumentally, and while it’s executed well, certainly, it’s not precisely enjoyable to the ears. It feels messy and kind of hard to groove with, and nothing in particular really stands out or captures you during the duration. Again, I get the intent of the track, as the sound is absolutely 70’s funk/nearly jazz, but it just doesn’t work, especially when compared to how directly beautifully the first couple of tracks were so far.
After that, we get one of the most annoying songs on the whole album, whose promising minimalist guitar-driven instrumentation is completely ruined by the repetitive and seemingly endless repetition of “MAYBE YOU SHOULD STAY THE NIGHT” that appears throughout the song. The rest of the track is great, but at a point she repeats it so many times it actually starts to hurt my brain. The guitar solo that plays is solid, and everything else about the song is pretty solid… just please… I get it… you want them to stay the night… say something else please.
While Bravo can pretty much be skipped, we get to a fantastic modern RnB with 70’s funk influence on the song “Mood”. This is a clear example that the hip-hop and modern RnB style, which the band had been using more often they didn’t in the past, is still very much present in this new album, as well. This is another sexy track, with that incredible impossible-to-not-move-when-you-hear bass-line, coupled with distorted funk guitar, even a delightful little flute, saxophone, and synth sections that slowly seep into the track near the end of the song. Excellent track.
I also do enjoy the following track “Next Time”, it suffers the curse of following “Mood”, and sounding very similar to “Mood”, but being vastly inferior in every element: No harmonic and instrumental build-up, no hypnotic and sexy bass drum foundation, and overall the song has just a meandering kind of “filler” feeling to it. Don’t fill your album with stuff just because it’s stuff – think hard about your music. This song, and it’s accompanying song “Humble Pie” while not horrible, because the production and technical ability of everyone involved is just overall too good for that, they are completely throw-away as far as this album is concerned, and really makes this album feel longer than it needs to. It almost ruins what could have been a near perfect string of really memorable songs.
The band brings everything back though, once we get to “Look What You Started”, which has one of the funkiest bass lines I’ve honestly heard in a while. The band just, once again, perfectly nails that sound, and makes another great song. If anything, the introduction with the rapper was kind of awkward, even I get the intent of the message being made… it just is irritating that it’s at the start of the track, and I have to listen to it every time in order to get to this great, simplistic, funk homage of a song.
Then we get to goddamn “Wanna Be”, which almost made me feel like I was listening to a D’Angelo and the Vanguard song, a la Black Messiah, with that guitar sound and drum set. However, by 30 seconds in, it’s clear that this song is it’s own unique, albeit simplistic, idea – and succeeds in being this somber, yet-somewhat upbeat, and bitter sweet song. Again, surface level lyricism, but that’s honestly good enough for setting a straight-forward and relate-able vibe.
I’m okay with “Beat Goes On”, which sounds like one of the more meandering and messy “Thundercat” songs, where the singing feels a bit goofy, and the melodies kind of suddenly and stiffly just pop-up out of nowhere; which, while I love a lot of Thundercat’s music, it’s an element to some of his jazzier funk songs, which remind me of this, that I simply can’t wrap my head around enough to enjoy.
I don’t really know what to think of “Hold On”… I love the last few minutes of it, when it becomes an instrumental mixing pot, with all kinds of little touches here and there of bass, xylophone, synth, samples, and guitar. It’s okay… but perhaps a bit too wandering and dreamy for my taste.
Excellent – The internet have been inconsistent in regards to their place in the Neo-soul movement, but have absolutely solidified themselves as not only distinctly in apart of that musical front, but perhaps one of the more technically proficient, memorable, and accessible bands, too. Without the filler songs, and perhaps a bit more depth, complexity, or originality with the lyrics and themes, and this could have become an absolutely classic for me. However, in reality, this is simply an excellent Neo-soul (more-so funk), album that is groovy and sexy. Check it out.
Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
“You Without End” begins with a beautiful piano and guitar making me think of dreamy, tropical weather, coupled with rain entering and leaving the track. Then the beat kicks in, and it’s this incredible, softer, a la Chroma Key, soft-rock piece, paired with a sample (also a la Chroma Key) over the top of the track, and unintelligible lyrics lightly echoing under the mix, at times. This is some interesting Elton John meets Kevin Moore, with early Genesis guitar work. Then, the vocals creep up underneath the beat, and while at first it’s the last thing you expect, and for most arn’t going to be for them, I personally find it so uniquely strange, that it’s really interesting. Love the originality, the musical and instrumental competence.
Next, we go to “Honeycomb”, which begins with a solid post-rock infused Black Metal offering, that focuses on beautiful sustained notes, as opposed to the typical tremolo picking style, giving the song a more melodic and engaging sound, while still being crippling and heavy with the drums and vocals. The transitions, the various kinds of melodies and emotions being thrown out there here make this sound particularly unique for a something that’s clearly Black Metal. Love when the beat kicks back in at the 3 and a half minute mark, and then the rocky and blusey sections and transitions at 4 minutes and beyond just just hits you and sounds amazing throughout. This song is such a bizzare, yet entrancing exercise in progressive, post-metal, post-rock, black metal, soft-rock that I can’t really wrap my head around it. Not to mention, the production is absolutely PERFECT for this sound, somehow.
Then we go to “Canary Yellow”, which sounds like this beautiful alt/indie-pop song, with just fantastic drum playing, and awesome, gentle, tranquil vibes. Then the metal fucking hits, and man that short guitar riff is satisfying. Unconventional drumming continues, as well. Whole song is quite a trip, full of transitions, and just ultimately very satisfying. Around the 8 minute mark we get a cool-down section, with some very Rush or early Genesis style experimental drumming, which leads it into kicking back into action right after. That purely rock/blues solo calmly plays over the music around the late 9 minute mark, evolving in sound all over the place as the song continues.
On the next track, “Near”, we get a more clear shoe-gaze/psychedelic sound, still with engaging and memorable drumming, and a very dreamy elegant vibe. It’s not necessarily my cup of tea, as it is way too meandering and kind of, in my opinion. However, I can understand it’s placement on the album, and it’s use as a pleasant reprieve from the previous song, if thinking about this album’s experience as a straight full-listen through. For it’s kind of music, it doesn’t bother me, and gets the job done, I’m just not crazy about it.
Up next we have “Glint”, which continues the catchy and memorable “post-rock” instrumentation from what we’ve seen earlier on the album, and certainly performs this sound well, allowing every band member so sort of morph and grow their playing gradually as the song progresses. I get a distinct Baroness Green/Yellow and Purple vibe from this song in particular, as the kind of retro-psychedelic nature of the echo-y guitar sound that appears, along with the kind of dancey drumming, and overall tone in fact. While I didn’t quite get that feeling on the earlier tracks, I love the Baroness influence. Then, the metal kicks in, somehow even heavier than we’ve seen on previous transitions on the album before. Once again, totally enjoy their blusey guitar licks around the late 6 minute to 7 minute mark, which is absolutely refreshing around the black metal sound. The song just becomes straight up catchy right after this, somehow.
We are then treated the almost un-explainable “Night People”, which other than being a clear Post-metal track with prominent heavy drums and piano focus, and creepy vocals, I can’t make heads or tails of. My hipster pants simply aren’t tight enough to appreciate the almost Pink Floyd or classical elements being toyed with here. I just don’t like particular sound, and I don’t like it in this particular exercise either.
Finally, on “Worthless Animal”, we get a more direct fusion of gentle soft-rock with black metal vocals, that really does sound like Yellow/Green album Baroness with black metal vocals, changed up a bit in direction to being more free-form as opposed to straightforward as that Baroness record was. While difficult to describe, this track is probably the most catchy and engaging of black metal-incorporated songs on the album.
Good – While incredibly niche and experimental, it’s also simultaneously accessible in odd ways due to it’s Post-rock/Post-metal side, bluesy and rock elements, and the competence of the musicians to craft catchy and memorable sections in almost all of their songs. This is the strangest combination of genres that feels like music itself is being broken down and played with.