|Photo by: Amazon|
Key Tracks: "Fastlane"
It pains me to write about The Internet not because of their musical compatriots. However controversial and polarizing as they may be, alt-rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All has turned out quality material thus far in my eyes--for the most part. Led by the harsh visuals and raw rhyme of Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean's smooth R&B, the group has made quite the name for itself in the past year.
One of Odd Future's greatest facets is that the collective, while arguably kept afloat by Tyler and Ocean, is not a two-trick pony, with other members simply riding the coattails of their superiors to stardom. Many members have talents of their own, and altogether contribute to the growing media empire that is Odd Future.
This brings me back to my original point. It certainly doesn't pain me to write about The Internet because of the animosity oftentimes surrounding Odd Future, nor does it pain me to do so due to the fact that neither of the artists involved are named Tyler, Frank or even Earl.
The aspect of Purple Naked Ladies that causes internal strife is simply that it's not up to Odd Future's usual standards. I want to believe that I should care about members of the collective other than the obvious, but when said members turn out material such as this, I can't help but wonder if the collective as a whole has much staying power.
That's not to say that The Internet has made a bad record. There's nothing awful about it, unless the spacy, dystopian production is a turn off--and it probably isn't. If you're listening to this record, you're here because you enjoyed Odd Future's earlier output; it's highly doubtful that anyone would stumble upon The Internet through other means. Syd Tha Kid, one half of the duo, is a big presence when it comes to the rest of Odd Future's sound. So, if you dislike that sort of production, chances are you weren't going to be listening to this record anyway.
But Purple Naked Ladies does boldly go where no other Odd Future member has previously gone. The duo (completed by Matt Martians) is hard to pin down genre-wise, but trip-hop would be a good place to start. The hip hop aesthetic is here, but Syd's vocal throws the work off its hinges, molding it and giving it more soul.
The result is as sparse as the Internet itself happens to be. There isn't a clear, solid direction with The Internet--rather, it often sounds like a blank palate onto which Syd and Matt etch whatever the hell they feel like etching. They're not really pigeonholed into one genre, which creates a much wider sense of freedom than, say, Tyler or Frank might be able to produce.
Sometimes, being so malleable can work--see Janelle Monae. And on occasion, The Internet can deliver. "Fastlane" can't seem to decide what it wants to be, but the small facets of the song that try to make it something are strong. Jazz, soul, R&B, electronica... it's a fairly telling example of the album as a whole.
But usually, Syd sounds lazy and uninterested. It could just be her voice, as I'm sure she's actually quite invested in what she's doing. But her singing voice, while certainly not horrific, lacks emotion.
And that's a pretty big thing to be missing in any musical work.
All in all, the album is rambling, and at times incoherent. Little sparks occur that seem to set a given song in a good direction, but the duo might then change things up midway and go on to something else. No song in particular, save for "Fastlane," really stands out.
The songs simply have no staying power in one's mind. And when that's the case, the album as a result has no real reason to linger in your head. And if Odd Future has been anything since their inception, it's certainly not forgettable. Unfortunately, someone didn't get The Internet that memo.
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