The Internet make the phrase “I’m with the band” cool again.
Now with four full-length albums under their belt, and finally breaking through in 2015 with their GRAMMY-nominated third record, Ego Death, the neo-soul band haven rewritten the rules of romanticism with every pinch harmonic and programmed drum pattern.
Made up of Syd, Steve Lacy, Patrick Paige II, Christopher Smith, and Matt Martians, the band have come a long way from their roots as Odd Future expats and roving musicians. After a three-year hiatus, wherein each member pursued their own solo career—much to the band’s benefit—The Internet are finally back to deliver their most confident album to date: Hive Mind.
Hive Mind is an album about togetherness, in more ways than one. There is the obvious image of a hive mind, or as bassist Patrick Paige II told DJBooth in early July: “We come together; we’re a hive mind. We’re like the Megazord. It’s literally five Power Rangers that come together to make the Megazord.” Take the opening track, also titled “Come Together,” and the funky, clobbering sensation that overtakes the listener on the final swell. Legend has it, that’s the sound of the Megazord coming together.
Of course, Hive Mind is not simply a display of how much chemistry exists between the members of The Internet. Though, with the bevy of experimental struts staying firmly in the realm of excitement without jarring us, we can’t deny the band is at their peak camaraderie. More importantly, the album is their most romantically forward and sincere effort. Hive Mind blends the wistful, the languid, the sensual, the innocent, and the subtly hedonistic sensibilities of the band into a final product free of desperation.
From the pointed and bare writing, emphasizing the joy of minutia, to Syd and Steve Lacy’s refined vocal deliveries, there is tangible growth in the three years and solo breaks taken by each of the members. As the frontwoman, Syd sounds more assured than ever. Steve Lacy brings an astral cool to each track and has a quiver of licks so iconic, we hear his stylings from miles away. And yes, by the 12th track, “Beat Goes On,” Lacy does take us to space, to the bridge, and back again. Paige and Smith act as the rhythmic connective tissue across the album’s tight pivots, most notably the industrial breakdown on “Bravo,” where Matt Martians also assisted in programming a masterpiece.
Pressing play on the record, we are treated to The Internet at their most developed, but to appreciate the album in full, there’s a necessity to look back. Their 2015 album Ego Death is, in name and by design, markedly less brusk and suave than Hive Mind. Yes, Ego Death was packed with passing moments of seduction and leering glances (“Get Away,” “Girl,” “Special Affair”); however, the album was also marked by a near-tiresome longing that didn’t break immersion but did leave us wanting for at least one more sucker punch. Thankfully, with Hive Mind, we’re served up a series of confident jabs and left hooks.
Make no mistake, the yearning found on Ego Death, perhaps the most accessible and hooking facet of The Internet, is not lost on Hive Mind. Rather, the group’s influx of confidence makes for a more sophisticated approach to the emotion. “Come Over,” “Stay the Night,” “Mood,” “Wanna Be,” and myriad other flashes of Syd’s sultry abilities envelope the record in a mahogany warmth best foreshadowed by the steamy arrangement of “Roll (Burbank Funk).” In many ways, Hive Mind is the gussied-up successor to Ego Death’s “Girl,” taking the motifs and trance-like eccentricities of the cut and developing them into an arresting body of work.
Look no further than the unexpected din and fullness of “Bravo.” In typical form follows content fashion, Syd is asserting herself in full on the track, over a ruin of spastic drums. She’s singing “My love let’s get this straight / This ain’t just show, this ain’t just stage” with more force and candor than all of Ego Death’s finger-curling flirtations combined. It is very much so a know-your-worth moment come to neo-soul life. On “Stay the Night” she makes the coy exciting and vibrant despite the fine and silky production.
Hive Mind plays out as a testament to the truism that love feels—and sounds—better when you love yourself.
With 13 tracks, no skits, no features, no interludes, and no blind spots, Hive Mind is an airtight and no-nonsense exposé. For those who are fiending for a more freewheeling record, the sharp pivots and breakdowns on “Come Over,” “La Di Da,” and “It Gets Better (With Time)” will surely satiate. The Internet are adept at burrowing themselves deep into the core of a sound and milking it for all it's worth. Hive Mind is rich and quietly glamorous in that way, not overtly experimental, but gem-studded nonetheless.
The sole low point for the record is that it very much feels like a conclusive moment; at the least, it must be if The Internet hope to continue the trend of their enduring career. The band makes music to live with, and as life progresses in chapters, Hive Mind must allude to the start of another. Whatever form that chapter takes, we can’t deny that there seems to be little room left in this pocket The Internet have cultivated. Finally, the band has found a winning combination of members, and with their writing and instrumentation the furthest from tired, now is a good a time as any for The Internet to take their next leap forward. As it stands, though, Hive Mind is their pinnacle.
Three Standout Songs
This song will remind you that true love exists in the pockets of your day, not in grand gestures. Syd is at her most sultry and confident, beckoning without treading into pitying waters. With a steady percussion line and emphasis on the downbeat, “Come Over” is summer heat in song.
“Stay the Night”
The twinkle of youthful indie guitar licks makes this an instant bedroom jam. “Stay the Night” is an even more forward ode to lovely nights in, with a dreamy and lustful twist. As Syd’s vocals flow from left to right, the full soundstage makes this a syrupy ballad fit for all late-night playlists.
Syd flexes her spoken word skills over taut and funky synths. There’s a poise and overt swagger to this track that makes Syd sound smug in the best way. By the time a hush of horns come in, Syd is out flower shopping for her girl, and maybe yours too if you’re not careful.