Fin (released February 3, 2017)
You had to know we’d be here eventually.
Diana Ross did it. So did Lauryn Hill. And Beyonce. And Gwen Stefani. Patti LaBelle and Fergie too.
As soon as The Internet broke through in 2015 with their head-turning Ego Death, enigmatic lead singer Syd Tha Kid was just as immediately thrust into the spotlight. Syd, almost predictably, has been pretty aloof about striking out on her own as a solo artist, calling it an “in-between thing” amidst projects with her band.
Syd can play coy all she wants, she realizes that a solo record could catapult her budding career into stardom. Fin is proof that this is no lackadaisical side project.
She’s seizing this opportunity.
A word of warning to you Internet fans looking for Ego Death 2: Death Harder – don’t get your hopes up. While there are occasional allusions to The Internet’s breezy instrumentation (specifically the closer “Insecurities”), Fin is a completely different record and feels much more contemporary than the group’s efforts.
It’s only right. Syd is the star here.
“Shake Em Off” opens the album with slinky production and Syd’s usual confidence: “There’s nothing you can tell me,” she warns. “I’m grown.” “No Complaints” is just as boastful, with Syd reminding men (and probably women) that “I’m the one your girl been postin’ tweets about.” Sure, Syd doesn’t possess Kelly Price’s choir-crushing vocal power but her limited range is buoyed by her reverberating confidence.
But Syd’s not just style over substance. Go listen to that Migos album if that’s your thing. It ain’t mine.
Sixty seconds into “Know” and you’d swear the song crossed space and time from Aaliyah’s 2001 album and landed in 2017. The stuttering production and airy vocals are a delightful throwback. “Smile More” once again shows Syd in control of her sexuality, a cut that remains sensual without getting eye-rollingly pornographic. That’s a minor miracle in today’s R&B: “Splashing in your waterfalls/Now we’re totally involved/We get better every time/Learning how to read your mind.”
Even when the pace quickens, Syd never loses her groove. “Dollar Bills” will be coming to a musty strip club near you very soon, while “Over” has an addictive bounce that still has my shoulders jumping as I type this sentence.
Shockingly, the weakest track here is the first single “All About Me,” featuring that half sung/half rap combo that’s all the rage on radio. It’s just a bit too lethargic and, well, typical. “Got Her Own” works much better in that regard, with haunting ad-libs and hand claps serving as a tribute to independent women.
When Syd announced that her album would feature a more current sound, I feared the worst and expected some mutant trap abomination. Thankfully Fin proved those fears were unfounded – it’s an album that borrows from current production stylings but stays true to Syd’s core sound.
Syd could have easily trotted out another Internet album but that’ll come in time.
Right now, this is her time.
Best tracks: “Know,” “Got Her Own,” “Over”
4 stars out of 5