Review: The Internet's Hive Mind Seeks Unity in Dividing Time
To think back to 2011, with The Internet’s debut project Purple Naked Ladies, it seemed unlikely that the now five-person band of Syd, Steve Lacy, Matt Martians, Patrick Paige II, and Christopher Smith, could rise to prominence in shadow of Tyler, the Creator’s towering enigma. When asked about the likelihood of their success in hindsight, Syd in a recent reddit AMA sums up their journey neatly: “didnt expect it but never ruled it out and always had hope that we would get the recognition we deserve. looking back i think we've always had the recognition we've deserved.”
Following that trend, the Internet’s fourth studio album Hive Mind is deserving of all incoming praise. There’s an undeniable air of maturity spilling from every aspect of this project. The storytelling from Syd and bassist Steve Lacy, the main writers of the album, are as strong as ever. Taking the lessons learn of working on their own individual projects, each track on Hive Mind shines with clean, infectious hooks and palatable emotional energy.
“Come Over”, the album’s second lead single, tells a timeless tale of young lust with Syd wanting the company of a girl and being promptly rejected. The anthemic quality of the song displays the growth The Internet has captured during their long 3 year hiatus where each of them released their own solo ventures, most notably Steve Lacy's Demo. Stepping away from the extended instrumental breaks of previous projects, short, sweet, earworm lines litter themselves across the soft falsetto of Syd’s voice
Made you blush
You made me smile
What you want
Baby you decide
Why we grown
Hive Mind sees the group step into a funk persona, partially shedding the shade of R&B Ego Death leaned towards in its structure. Tracks are often built on meandering electric guitars, understated drums, and expressive Lacy basslines with Syd’s voice anchoring the whole thing with a low-key whisper tone. This, too, is a kind of maturity. The awareness to keep tracks tight, often switch songs right before they lose their lust, is evidence that the group has refined their production process, the result being every track having a strong sense of intention behind them. The Internet isn’t just a simple garage band, they’re a serious act that’s ready to take over the world and our hearts.
On that note, the relatability of this album is it’s greatest selling point. Centering particularly around small personal moments of flirtation, The Internet does a remarkable job of creating emotional intimacy without alienating listeners into a “fly on the wall” type bystander. Even in the utterly vulnerable, “Stay the Night” with its stellar hook “Maybe you should stay the night/Why don't you stay the night/You know it ain't safe outside/You should just stay tonight/Why don't you stay the night/Maybe you should stay the night/Baby just stay tonight” you get a sense that this is a truly personal story but dammit if we all also haven’t been hung up on a girl so much that we didn’t want her to leave.
Even when the emotion turns curt in “Look What U Started”, a scorn-filled track with a bullying bassline resting against a brick wall of a Christopher A. Smith kick drum, the message is no longer the passionate resentment of 2015’s “Get Away” but a quiet, more cool apathy. When Syd sneers the lyrics “Now you should ask yourself (hey)/Was- was it worth it?”, it’s freeing in its reminder that true growth doesn’t only come from “forgiving” those who hurt you, it also comes when you stop giving any energy to those in your past you aren’t bettering your future.
Ego Death had the group in a constant state of reaction. Reacting to their new fame, reacting to a more dangerous landscape, especially for black bodies. Three years later, the group has settled into their spotlight and decisively determined what their driving ethos will be, what they will bring to the conversation the world is having . Calling anything the best album of the year is a pointless conversation best saved for December but Hive Mind makes the strongest argument from the most unifying work of the year. Amidst an ocean parted by divisive politics and toxic media, Hive Mind asks us to come together over the all emotions and dreams we share in common; fleeting love, self-acceptance, and perseverance. Because, The “internet” too often forces us to pit our minds against one another, however, The Internet, the band, is asking us through the power of funk to consider becoming one unified mind, a hive mind, for at least an hour or two, or four.
Stand out tracks: Come Over, Look What U Started, Next Time/Humble Pie.
Stream Hive Mind here: