-->
Music

Syd: Fin

The Internet's Syd embarks on her solo career with a solid, sensual debut album, and keeps it casual from start to finish.


Syd

Fin

Label: Columbia
US Release Date: 2017-02-02
UK Release Date: 2017-02-02
Amazon
iTunes

"I be more than a God in my dreams," sings Syd on single "All About Me", before noting: "it's wishful thinking."

And maybe it is. Syd is many wonderful things on solo debut Fin - singer, producer, all-around seductress -- but most importantly, she is human, and her album is filled with all that entails. Fin is full to the brim with sex and style, a slow-motion bacchanal that feels like a VIP party in spite of how low-key Syd keeps it. Steady beats underscore Syd's effortless vocal delivery, itself so low-key that it makes even her most hyperbolic claims ("I would tell you that I am the greatest, but you knew that") sound like casual statements, unpretentious and entirely factual.

That there are no added frills to Syd's voice is a refreshing touch, and brings a sincere sensuality to every song, whether Syd is singing to strippers on "Dollar Bills" or a fretful girlfriend on soulful ballad "Smile More". That lightness is a key element of the album's sonic profile; each track sounds it lives in the space between deep sea and the surface, buoyant and spreading over languid currents. Every layer sounds poured in, from long bass notes to Syd's smooth voice. The fact that mentions of drowning recur throughout the album -- whether Syd feels engulfed by doubt and frustration on "Shake Em Off", reflects on those she's seen swallowed up by failure on "All About Me", or prepares to soothe a lover on "Drown In It" -- serves to further unify Fin's aesthetic.

The minimalist production lets Syd keep full control over the listener, offering intimacy without compromising amounts of vulnerability. She stands front and center, with a performance subdued enough to make it clear that she's right where she wants to be, and if you want to listen, it's up to you to come closer. Syd's strength lies in that control, in calling all the shots in her music instead of letting anyone else make her jump from level to level. It means that her music sometimes stays in one place, but she sounds so right where she is that this hardly feels like a problem. "Body" is, by that measure, the peak of power, four enticing minutes that are every bit as voluptuous as the song's title implies.


Please don't ad block PopMatters.

We are wholly independent, with no corporate backers.

Simply whitelisting PopMatters is a show of support.

Thank you.


It's at the last minute and a half of closing track "Insecurities", an old-school R&B cut on which Syd bemoans the difficulties of trying to leave a toxic relationship, that funk notes finally let Syd take her music a little higher and break out of the bubble she's created for herself over the first 11 songs. Guitars, keys, and wordless background singers add a warmth to the song not present even in Fin's most provocative moments, and when Syd lets loose after a second iteration of the chorus, she puts her whole heart into it, turning her lamentations furious, rage and sorrow equally present in a way that makes this the boldest declaration of feelings that Syd makes.

Syd is well-prepared to kick off her solo career, with Odd Future and the Internet experience under her belt and a feature on Kaytranada's 99.9% last year, and Fin is a solid start. She knows the business she's getting into, and she knows what keeps her going. "Today I'm only human, but know that when I die / My grave gon' be my music, my soul is living through it," continues "All About Me", and there's no doubt that Syd has the skills and the fortitude to make sure that prediction comes to pass.

8
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image