With Ego Death the Internet create a sound that is both consistently difficult to pin down but alternatively easy to love.
Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA) is a group that brings about an immediate reaction. Whether the undying admiration of their legions of super fans or the visceral hatred expressed by many who see the band as violence-inciting misogynists, one thing is true, people have an opinion about Odd Future. But many of these opinions are focused on rappers Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler. the Creator, and to a lesser extent Frank Ocean. The Internet, one of the lesser known bands within the group, have largely escaped both public opinion and commercial success all while receiving relatively positive critical reviews of their first two albums, 2012’s Purple Naked Ladies and 2013’s Feel Good.
The Internet is led by singer/producer/DJ Sydney Bennett (Syd) and producer and synth player Matt Martians. The two have admitted that both their style and mindset is very different from their more outspoken Odd Future friends. Tyler. the Creator is one of the decade’s best self-promoters, constantly taking to Twitter and other social media sites to successfully promote his upcoming work, overtly selling something to his millions of followers.
The Internet isn’t interested in pushing their public persona, but are more focused on creating something truly unique; a sound that is both consistently difficult to pin down but easy to love. Ego Death is no doubt the group’s most important album to date as they have reached a point where they will either begin to breakout into mainstream and commercial success or become relegated to niche artist.
The band seem to recognize this as they have taken a much more traditional route this time around than in the two previous outputs. The two have recruited a solid band for recording and have focused on building songs with strong melodic backbones, all with the goal of making their sonic, floating sound a little more accessible to the average listener.
Part of this effort can be seen in the several features they have on Ego Death, including Janelle Monáe, rapper Vic Mensa, and James Fauntleroy. Though they don’t rely solely on these new faces, they will likely attract casual fans to the band they may have ignored up to this point. The hope is that these tracks will entice people to listen to Ego Death as a whole, for it is an album with such a variety of sounds that anyone is likely to find something that interests them.
The album’s opener, “Get Away” begins with a beat that will remind many of the dark tones implemented by fellow Odd Future artist Earl Sweatshirt, but also serves to highlight Bennett’s remarkable vocal range. “Get Away’s” catchy, yet nuanced chorus, which tells of a couple rolling up an L as a way to distract themselves from more deep-seeded issues, is an example of the songwriter’s unique ability to meld personal experiences with universal romantic foibles.
Tracks like “Under Control” and “Just Sayin’/I Tried” show how producer Martian is able to use Syd’s obvious vocal ability to his advantage, using nifty production techniques to play vocal ping pong with Syd’s various vocal stylings. “Under Control” ends with a long instrumental breakdown, one so incredibly nuanced and layered that even the best jazz musicians will have to appreciate the song's execution.
To say that Ego Death will be a breakout pop success is to assume a lot of listeners. Though the band has made an effort to become more welcoming to first-timers it is far from simple. The album slowly unfolds over a number of listens and each time you are likely to notice a new wrinkle — a guitar riff here, and bongo beat there — all of which give the album its unique identity. Ego Death and The Internet require a little bit of patience, but if you are willing to give it a full go, it will reward you with one of the most interesting albums in recent memory.