As a newly established limb on the Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All monster, the Internet–made up of OF chief engineer/DJ Syd tha Kyd and Matt Martians, also of The Super 3–has received its share of mixed reviews regarding its debut (and first physical release on Odd Future Records), Purple Naked Ladies, which dropped Dec. 20. To cut right to it, the album sounds like its creators: it’s young, forward and dipped in sex and drugs. It’s ambitious enough to get you listening and cool enough not to repel you. Over 14 tracks, the album fleshes itself out mostly in the second half, which leaves the beginning feeling a little misled. Not so misled, however, that we’re drawn into a cocaine carnival and left for dead on the ground.
On Dec. 8, Syd wrote on Tumblr that “our genre is psychedelic soul.” Early tracks, especially “She DGAF,” “Cunt” and the opener “Violet Nude Women,” take on the psych element and from there the music slowly bleeds more into soul; the two moods, though, are never totally separated from one another. This gives the album a wandering feel, which different people will feel differently about. Some will call it a lack of direction and others might call it restlessness. I’m going with the latter, because Ladies is nothing if not consistent and, restlessly or otherwise, the Internet isn’t confused about what sounds it wants you to hear. The thick haze of synthesizers permeates each song, and the subtle drapery of vocals throughout the album adds a thematic appeal to this world’s neon melancholy. It’s a comedown record for those having a hard time distinguishing between lust and love.
Six of the fourteen tracks have features, but the duo makes its most mesmerizing music without outside help. From “Web of Me” on, are the best consecutive songs for their contradictory mix of warmth and detachment. In that final chunk, Coco O. is the lone feature, on “Visions,” a sultry song you may recognize from the Purple Naked Ladies teaser video. At a minute and a half long, “Visions” is the climax to an album of trippy foreplay. The lyrics of album closer “The Garden” appropriately follow (“I don’t know about you, but I’m coming down”), and then we’re thrown, by hard and fast drums, against reality.
The emotional and chemical ups-and-downs of “Cocaine,” “They Say/Shangrila” and “Love Song” still sound out, but “Gurl,” featuring Pyramid Vritra, and “Ode to a Dream” are tracks that will lure listeners into repeated listens. Ladies is a strong debut and, overall, it presents a pretty unique environment to get lost in. But before you can do that, you have to be willing to get there.