There are two things that can happen when members of an internationally venerated music group decide to branch out and go solo. The results are either gloriously realised or an absolute shitshow. You get the beginnings of Beyonce or Michael Jackson (more pertinently in this case, Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt); or you get Roger Water’s Radio K.A.O.S living in the shadow of Pink Floyd. There is little to no in between. Of course, the groups in those examples disbanded completely, and thankfully for us, The Internet are still very much together and look set to remain that way. Vocalist Syd Tha Kid just happens to also be launching a solo career of her own, with the release of her sophisticated, suave debut album Fin today only solidifying her Ultimate Cool Person status further. Despite her remarks that the album is “not that deep” – perhaps true – it is extremely good.
Though largely self-produced, Fin also features production work from Melo X (Lemonade), Hit Boy, Haze, and Rahki. Fans of Syd’s ultra-smooth delivery and swaggering lyrical bravado that are trademarks of The Internet are in for a treat. Fin is nigh on wall to wall matter-of-fact dark braggadocio and confidence, delivered so softly and gently that it feels like a whispered inner dialogue. Though lacking in some of the groovier vibes that one might come to expect as a natural follow-on from Syd’s work with her erstwhile band, there’s no shortage of interesting sonic territory here. Clunky industrial synths, metallic skittering vocals, hypnotic layered effects borrowing from 90s RnB, trap, hip-hop and back.
The lynchpin of this album is Syd’s ineffable star quality. She is fiercely confident, but her utterances are so unassuming that it never feels excessive. Where tracks like Drown in it and Body are relatively straightforward, they are elevated to seductive, lean-in-as-close-as-you-can, don’t-miss-a-second status by this effortless, mellifluous presence. It’s not even simply a matter of Syd having technically great vocal abilities – it’s how she doesn’t even sound like she’s trying, yet is in complete control the entire time. On Fin, you are in Syd’s world, you are eating out of her palm, and she knows it. Oh, and make no mistake: she’s here to steal your girl.
Though essentially a modern reimagining of an RnB album, Fin houses its share of surprises. Know sees Syd sounding alarmingly delicate. At 1:13, No Complaints is the shortest track on the album, feeling closer to party music than anything else on the album with its West Coast beat and references to a “motherfuckin spaceship”. But not even the perennially-confident Syd is without her moments of doubt; Shake Em Off is primarily a “fuck the haters” cut, but temporarily pulls the curtain back on such a moment (can’t sleep cos I’m anxious/counting sheep). Closer Insecurities takes these doubts and turns them on their head with a wry smile. Lead single All About Me sounds like an instant classic, but it’s Got Her Own that hogs the spotlight with its unabashed admiration for the success and backbone of a woman (Heard she got her own/I just wanna be there cos I just wanna know) and anti-rape culture message (You try to sex her but she said no).