Sometimes, a simply titled album delivers more oomph and savvy compared to more elaborately, creatively titled colleagues. Sometimes such albums appear to lack flash and pizzazz when judged merely by title, but disproves that prejudgement upon listening. Feel Good is a perfect example of a ‘gem’ that is simply titled, yet conducts more electricity than expected. Connoting happiness and “good vibrations”, The Internet’s sophomore effort does just that adding some spacey moodiness as well. Progressive in spirit yet battling the sensibilities of soul, Feel Good exemplifies the modern soul movement.
“Tellem (Intro)” foreshadows an alt-soul vibe that consistently characterizes Feel Good. Syd’s vocals carry weight, despite their understated nature. The vocals adorn the lush, soulful background superbly. “Sunset” proceeds, again delivering production work served up with a lil’ soul and jazz. The overall satisfying sound could be described as relaxed and spacey, though not ponderous. The nu-soul / modern-soul sound is epitomized. While “Sunset” isn’t exactly a ‘home run’, it certainly allures given its left-field approach.
“Dontcha” has more oomph with its funkier sound. Additionally, Syd’s vocals are clearer and the songwriting is stronger. On the catchy chorus, she states “...basically I, I just wanna ride with you / I gotta get you, ‘cause I just wanna vibe with you…”, later shifting the focus to her potential lover “...I just gotta know if you want me to / Don’t you want me?” On “You Don’t Even Know”, momentum continues capably. As Syd coos coolly throughout her performance, Tay Walker guests complementing her exceptionally well. Additionally, the lyrics standout whether it is “...when your skin touches mine / I get goosebumps right away…” or even simpler lyrics occurring later such as “You’re the beat in my heart, baby”. A bit overindulgent given its lengthy unwinding, it shines nonetheless.
“Pupil / The Patience” ends up being rewarding in spite of its length. About half of the cut is vocal (“Pupil”) while the second half (“The Patience”) is instrumental. As excellent as the vocal portion is, the instrumental is equally captivating, described adjectivally as minimalist, breathtaking, and unique. “Red Balloon” serves as its antithesis, given its brevity. Regardless, the two-and-half minute metaphorical number packs a punch, hosting memorably lines such as “When I was young I / Fell in love with you / You were my balloon” and “Told myself that one day I’d find my red balloon…” Vocally, Syd smooth sails. On “Cloud of Our Own”, the track indeed feels that way, particularly when a switch-up occurs. Not quite as magical as “Pupil / The Patience”, it’s a bit too spacey, but still scores above average.
“Runnin’” sports a ‘feel-good’ vibe, contrasting the former cut. Tay Walker once more provides the assist, which effectively proves to be an asset. “Matt’s Apartment” is a better track, anchored by a super percussive groove that easily incites body movement. Mostly instrumental, the selection is one that is one of those pleasant surprises that doesn’t need many lyrics to make it effective. If it weren’t sufficient, “Shadow Dance” bridges gaps, finding Syd channeling her inner Sade and Jill Scott. The slow jam proves to be incredibly seductive, regardless of sexual preferences. The references to a lesbian love interest are most clearly alluded to via the bridge, demarcated by contrasting harmonic scheme: “Tell me that you love me babe / Tell me that you love me girl…” That said, who would notice if it weren’t being sung from a female perspective, right?
“Wanders of the Mind” features a pop-rapping Mac Miller, who both manages to spit his obligatory f-bomb but also goes ‘serious’ as opposed to ‘dumb’. “The mind it wanders, I find that it’s harder / To realize what the fuck it is we doing on this earth, it’s a curse…” It’s one of those cuts that surprises, particularly given Miller’s penchant for rhymes referencing sex. Certainly, it is a worthwhile listen. “Partners in Crime, Pt. 2” is none too shabby, featuring top-rate production and vocals. “We can conquer the world”, she sings. “Just you and me no one else / Tell me if that’s cool / Whatchu wanna do….” The ten minute-plus “Higher Times” closes the album, featuring vocals from Jesse Boykin III. Lengthy, it doesn’t change the overall positive sentiment about Feel Good.
All in all, Feel Good ends up being a well conceived affair. It has one foot in the door of the past with its soulful turns and yet the other hearkens to present and future. Calm and collected Syd may be (she’s just chillin’), she leaves a mighty, respectable impression. Feel Good certainly makes the disgruntled R&B fan happy with its experimentation and progressiveness.
// Notes from the Road
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