Odd Future are shocking, but not without their moments of ingenuity. 2011 saw the group releasing a plethora of material that showcased their individual talents — from Hodgy Beats’ laid-back swagger to Frank Ocean’s self-reflective crooning. While some experiments were more provocative than others (“Bitch Suck Dick”), you couldn’t help but admire their dedication to providing new material to their devoted fan base. And lets not forget Tyler, the Creator, who, along with releasing Goblin, directed a pair of music videos that demonstrated just as much artistry as any video that year (making Goblin seem like less of a disappointment than it actually was). But here’s the thing: when Odd Future utilize their shock value without the creative integrity that went into “Yonkers,” “Earl,” or “64,” their juvenile nature can come off as tedious — or, even worse, shallow. The same can be said about Purple Naked Ladies — a collaborative effort by Odd Future’s Syd Tha Kid and Matt Martians, formally known as ‘The Internet’. Not only does the record fall flat in achieving the seductive feeling their lyrics imply, it also falls flat in presenting Syd Tha Kid as anything but a bratty, two-dimensional teenager.
In contrast to Frank Ocean’s live instrumentation, The Internet creates breezy atmospheres of spacey electronics and buoyant synthesizers. It’s the most “synthetic” release from Odd Future yet, hardly leaving any room for real instruments and replacing traditional R&B elements with eccentric sounds like midi-clavenets and stuttering bass drums. However, when it comes down to The Internet’s usage of these sounds, and how they’re implemented in the span of a single song, the music often ventures off into sloppy territory. In comparison to a producer like LeftBrain, who made MellowHype’s Blackenedwhite an ever-engaging listening experience with varied production values, The Internet comes off as an amateurish duo. On “Cunt,” the album’s fourth and worst track, Syd That Kid and Matt Martians create so many contrasting rhythms and dissimilar sounds that it leaves you in a state of disarray, making it damn-near impossible to feel anything from the song at all. As Odd Future’s sole engineer/mixer, Syd Tha Kid may have seemed like the ideal choice for devising a new Odd Future project. Well, think again: while Purple Naked Ladies certainly has its surprisingly “moments” (“Visions”), most of the record suffers from The Internet’s poorly-constructed beats, perhaps indicating that Syd Tha Kid simply doesn’t have the musical chops to deliver her own solo work.
The most disappointing aspect about Syd Tha Kid’s delivery is her inability to create a remotely compelling protagonist — something Odd Future members have proved themselves more than capable of doing. In fact, compared to the psycho-analytics of Tyler, the Creator’s personae, or the introspection of Frank Ocean’s self-consciousness, Syd Tha Kid comes off as an painfully uninteresting protagonist — one who only sings about trite subject matters. Worst of all: during the album’s most impressive musical moments, she only manages to dumb things down with middle-school lyricisms like ”I know that I’ll never forget you girl / ‘cause I see you my dreams,” or “it’s tough for us to go back in time / to the night before everything was fine.” These are blatant examples of Syd’s shortcomings as a singer-songwriter that ultimately reveals just how simple-minded and two-dimensional she may be. If anything, she could certainly learn a thing or two from Odd Future’s very own Frank Ocean — who had effortlessly mixed intelligent lyrics with intelligent music on 2011’s Nostalgia, Ultra. And while Goblin certainly wasn’t the straight-up masterpiece that critics and fan had hoped it to be, at least there was Tyler, the Creator — a protagonist that kept you generally interested at least half of the time.
Plugging away since 1999, The National finally hit mainstream success with the release of their 2010 album High Violet. Of course, this entailed their first world tour, but in the new documentary Mistaken For Strangers, it’s only the backdrop for the relationship between lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother Tom, who had no idea that these short videos he was shooting would turn into a public document of their troubled, if still loving brotherhood.
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