The Internet Purple Naked Ladies(Odd Future Records) Buy it from Insound
The inaugural release on the embryonic Odd Future Records, Syd tha Kyd and Matt Martians’ collaboration under The Internet moniker is a nocturnal tapestry of R&B, neo soul and nu jazz that gives the listener an insight in to the workings of the O.F. collective by showcasing the production cog in its machine. Beginning with the first glance at the sleeve’s banal domestic kitchen scene and continuing throughout the record’s post-breakup narrative it also showcases a more tender side to the collective as vulnerability and loneliness edging out anger and wrath as the dominant themes.
Full of ideas, however, it ultimately lacks the punch of even the earliest releases from Tyler, Mellohype, Earl Sweatshirt, et al. An ostensible fear of editing persists and initially interesting tracks are allowed to spiral off on spaced out tangents that sap the momentum and augment the record by at least 10 superfluous minutes.
The bloated emptiness of opening instrumental, Violet Nude Women, is an immediate example of the gratuitousness which plagues the first two thirds of the album and if the fact that it made it on to the album in the first place is unfortunate, for it to come as the album’s opener is nothing less than a disaster in sequencing. Passably evoking the warped funk of Shabazz Palaces or 1990s OutKast, its appeal wanes almost immediately as the duo inexplicably drag out a single 30-second loop to a life-sucking three and a half minutes, simultaneously wasting an opportunity to announce their arrival as artists in their own right while also setting a tone for an album which is both far too long and not nearly deep enough.
The album’s flatness is crystallised in Ode to a Dream, with its catchy, new jack swing groove that gives way to a murky breakdown of backward beats and walls of hollow, echoed vocals. Similarly tacked-on reprises also mire down the fresh, energetic soul of They Say and Gurl and so it isn’t long before you begin to wonder why Purple Naked Ladies couldn’t have been shorn of its fat and released as a more compact and infinitely stronger a EP.
This is not to say that the album is lacking in inspiration – far from it. The choruses of Ode to a Dream and Web of Me are shining examples of off-kilter soul, while Cocaine, with its constant key shifts and stop-start tempo, proves that the duo are capable of producing genuinely challenging pop music that can twist and turn without automatically forfeiting energy or structure. Indeed, once the half-baked funk of Lincoln is out of the way, the laidback, jazz-infused R&B of the album’s final third is notably more succinct; it feels as though The Internet have woken up to the failures of Side A by the end (the 40 aimless seconds at the end of Fastlane excepted) but simply didn’t have the ambition to go back and edit the rest.
Brimming with curious but half-realised ideas, then, this is a record of frustratingly unfulfilled promise that will serve as a companion piece in the library of the O.F. completist, filed alongside b-sides and anthologies rather than legitimate full lengths. For all of Odd Future’s daring, the album’s biggest hindrance is a lack of ruthlessness at crucial moments, eschewing cohesion for broad-stroke stabs at too many genres. And while versatility is undoubtedly part of the their charm, The Internet risk surrendering the attention span of even the most dedicated listener if they fail to sharpen their focus.