The Internet Album Review: Hive Mind
The LA-Based group first made waves in 2015 following the release of their third LP, Ego Death. The project was so well-orchestrated that it awarded them a much deserved Grammy Nomination. Since the R&B collective’s ascension, they have managed to stay in their own musical lane – managing to produce unique alternate sounds which are appreciated and difficult to imitate. With the collective constantly breaking and pushing boundaries, it was somewhat impossible to gauge the type of sound one would get with Hive Mind. The only certainty was that it was going to be great, and great it certainly was.
Following the release of Ego Death in 2015, the band embarked on a rather abrupt musical hiatus with vocalist Syd, guitarist Steve Lacy, producer Matt Martians, drummer Christopher Smith and bassist Patrick Paige II releasing their own individual projects. This sparked fears that the group had disintegrated all too soon. But despite the hiatus, the band sound as cohesive and collaborative as ever as they open the album with Come Together. The track is brought to life by Patrick Paige II’s strong baseline which ricochets throughout the track. When asked during their recent interview with Gaby Wilson how they felt having the group back together, Syd answered
“We never broke up, we were just all on different pages musically”.
On the chorus, the band sing in perfect harmony “They gon’ get us to, come together”. And as the title of the album implies, the band is the most in sync they have ever been. The album has no features. Their first album featured the likes of Tyler the Creator, Janelle Monae and Kaytranada, but on Hive Mind, the band opted to keep everything in house. Ego Death was primarily lead by Syd but on this project, all members are able to shine; The 70s inspired roll bounce track, Roll (Burbank Funk) is lead by an infectious funk percussion and laced with Steve Lacy’s, the group’s guitarist, almost hypnotic vocals. Upon hearing it, you can’t help but dance. Matt Martians takes the lead towards the end of the album on the groovy, alternative drum n’ bass track The Beat Goes On and Patrick Paige delivers an emotive outro rap on It Gets Better With Time.
During the third part of their segment with Beats 1, the group broke down every track on their album. The song which held the most significance for the band was It Gets Better With Time, a song which they sought to inspire hope amongst listeners who needed it. Syd revealed the song was her way of speaking to her younger self as she had grappled greatly with suicidal thoughts in the past.
The band have this formidable ability to reel listeners into their music and keep them somewhat entranced – this being the case for fans and listeners who simply stumble across their music. And with the band covering themes like love, relationships and loss, it makes it even more relatable and listenable. On Come Over, Syd is attempting to get her love interest to come over and on Stay The Night she is trying to do just as the title implies. But on Bravo, the once sweet relationship takes an unexpected sour turn as Syd bitterly sings “Thought that you had changed/I found out/it’s just a role you play”. In essence, the song is about Syd realising she had been deceived by her love interest and by singing “Bravo” on the chorus, she is commending her for somehow managing to do so.
The question on many fans’ lips is “Ego Death or Hive Mind“. With some even being sceptical of this project when comparing it to the band’s last album which has been dubbed an undisputed classic.
On this album, The Internet produced a funk infused sound, melded with Motown melodies with layers of sultry R&B vibes. Each song falls so perfectly on the ears – with every drum pattern, chord and melody sounding so deliberate yet simultaneously so effortless and accidental. Hive Mind defied sceptics who thought their sabbatical would hinder the group’s ability from making another classic album.