It’s been three years since The Internet released their last album, Ego Death, but it feels like they’ve never really been away. Aside from that album’s slow-burning staying power, each member of the now five-piece band have released solo projects of their own in the interim, with lead singer/producer/engineer Syd making the biggest splash with her solo effort Fin and various collaborations (including tracks with Canadians Kaytranada and Daniel Caesar). Having flexed their experimental indulgences, the collective is back under their SEO-unfriendly moniker.
The egalitarian spirit alluded to in the title isn’t just lip service. The album’s leadoff single Roll (Burbank Funk) finds Syd deferring lead vocal duties to the group’s 20-year-old guitarist/producer wunderkind Steve Lacy, who also delivers a serenading guitar solo on Come Over and adds to the perception that he’s a star in the making. Album opener Come Together is anchored by bassist Patrick Paige II’s muscular work, leading the group to a defiant yet understated refrain. Yet the song arrangements on Hive Mind are loose enough that every band member gets a chance to shine in sharp, mid-song sonic detours. Syd’s giddy yell of “Bridge!” on the bossa-nova-tinged La Di Da underlines just how much they revel in the practice.
The group’s well-documented reverence for production duo The Neptunes and organic 70s funk and soul is still apparent, yet there’s a step up in balance and sonic consistency. The freewheeling nature of the album’s first few tracks gives way to Syd’s seductive songwriting and silky vocal assurance in the album’s middle section, belying her endearing emotional vulnerability (Next Time). And the centrepiece of the largely introspective second half of It Gets Better addresses depression and alcoholism, delivering a well-considered emotional arc.
Back in 2011 when co-founders Syd and Matt Martians debuted The Internet as a skeletal funk offshoot of the now on-ice Odd Future collective, few would have bet on the growth exhibited here, but in getting their own group back together, the Internet have delivered their most fully realized project to date.
Top Track: Come Over
The Internet open for Gorillaz on October 8 at Scotiabank Arena. See listing.
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