The Internet — Hive Mind Review
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The common duration it takes for an established musician or group to release their newly anticipated material is usually two to three years. Within these few years, the musician or group must come up with new material that polishes the past with a new cleanser, all while dealing with the intricacies of touring and marketing. For L.A. based R&B group, The Internet, the group has been experienced all the joy and perks of being a successful group who’s made it in the scene. In an interview by Amoeba records, one of the band members, Matt Martians, explained how much of a fan he is of renowned artist D’Angelo.
When discussing one of D’Angelo’s albums, Black Messiah, Matt described how D’Angelo successfully implemented the familiar sound from his previous project, Voodoo, but enhanced it somehow to make it sound provocative and fresh. It’s funny looking back at that interview that was displayed over two years ago because that’s exactly my sentiment for this album.
Hive Mind is a collection of the familiar sounds and grooves that define the group’s quality, but there’s also indescribable intricacies and elements added that also make it sound like a project I haven’t heard before. Their last album, Ego Death, was a commercially successful exposure for the group to really show the world their definitive skill set and intransigence. Ego Death was a fine culmination of hypnotic grooves and danceable soul nods that was released as airplay with such singles as Girl and Get Away. With millions of streams and views with these singles, The Internet managed to escape the facade of just being one of Odd Future’s efforts and really soared away with commercial prosperity and musical recognition.
Ever since then, the group’s members have been vicariously releasing solo efforts in recognition of their marketing exposure. Female vocalist Syd released her album last year that revolved around the nonchalance and soothing tension of her voice. Matt Martians released his project last year that emphasized the obscure strings and chords that sounded almost alien and unheard of. Bassist Steve Lacy had released his demo tape that shot through the reciprocating screams and howls of his fellow female fans.
Their surprise indication of the new album was their single entitled Roll (Burbank Funk). This single made me excited and impatient for their foreshadowing album. It was a catchy nod to their soul grooves of the Disco era in Afrocentric patriotism. The music video even had them masquerade in 1970’s inspired attire and involved coded animation filters. Although this was a great way to start off the excitement, this single may be the most exciting of the whole project.
Not to say that the album itself is dull. There’s enough variety in this project to sustain attention and curiosity, track after track. To start out with the album, the song Come Together initially grabs the attention of the listener with its mind-whirling guitar synths and chord pronunciation, which follows the lead of Syd’s naturally languid voice and Lacy’s guitar lead. Leading the first track are three of the album’s bounciest songs that evocate the group’s knowledge of Disco and R&B dance music. La Di Da is a concoction of the instruments that define Soul, such as the sensuous guitar synths, the promenading drum, and cymbal pattern, and Lacy’s mantra indicating the need to just let go and dance.
Each track from Stay the Night up to It Gets Better (With Time) really focuses on Syd’s stories and vocal range. The Internet’s discography over the years held a lot of its concentration on Syd’s superfluous flow with the instrumentation. It seems that she will always be the leading voice in the group, with the exception of Lacy’s forefront in the song Roll (Burbank Funk). I could see why that would be the case. The grooves and songs that this group produces are chilled and relaxed, and there is no musician more relaxed and cool than Sydney Bennett. With nearly every song after La Di Da is melodious with simple drum pad patterns and serene guitar synths that billows with Syd’s aura. The track Look What U Started is an odd breakpoint that seems to belong to the first couple of tracks instead of the more tranquil songs.
After Look What U Did are the last three songs of the album, and perhaps my favorite ones besides Roll (Burbank Funk). Wanna Be is a sweet and delightful track with a flowing guitar synth that rides along the effervescence of Syd’s vocals. Beat Goes On is a mystical track that involves Lacy’s added lyrics and Matt Martian’s weird keyboard counter-attack. The last song of the album, Hold On, is a harmonious denouement to the album’s long love letter. It’s almost seven minutes long with Syd’s poetic prose indicating her most vulnerable emotions. I don’t think there’s another song in the whole album that feels more tuneful and airy that this track, with its sensuous guitar synths, blissful chords, and leveling drum patterns.
If someone were to ask what is the major difference between Hive Mind and their previous album, Ego Death, I wouldn’t be able to logically explain it. Both albums use the same instrumentation from the member’s erudite skill set, but they both feel different. There are different settings that both albums respectively fit within. Ego Death was definitely a Summer playlist that would fit in a Summertime barbeque and pool party. Hive Mind feels more like a nice cruise along an elongated street heading towards the sunset.
There could be an ongoing debate to describe the technicalities between the two albums, but the main point is how they feel. Within the three years since their last album, The Internet uses the same band members with the mostly the same instrumentation, but with a different approach and mindset behind it. Within the three years of touring and rising fame, The Internet successfully did to this album what D’Angelo did to Black Messiah, which is something that only R&B masters could accomplish.