Written By: Brandon Basile
Underwhelming Ride Around Common Corners
Originality: (2 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (2 / 5) Lyrics: (3 / 5) Production: (4 / 5) Average: (2.8 / 5)
Anyone can sound decent with proper production when it comes to modern R&B. Some artists use extensive production to their great benefit creating trippy uses of smooth repetitive lines, like that of Alina Baraz and Galimatias, whereas others use production for effectively pocketed harmonic textures like that of Daniel Caesar. Chill-vibe-sporting R&B/Hip-Hop singer Syd comes to us with her Always Never Home EP released in mid-September 2017 to give her a new taste of her brooding R&B vibes. This three track release comes on the heels of her Fin album released earlier this year, but there is still stuff here. Well, if you want to call it stuff.
Always Never Home feels like it is just getting started. Syd’s mellow voice feels a bit monotone at times and at times it feels like her singing style is cheating due to the fact that the songs are all within the same tonal range. You have to listen close enough to hear a whisper on all of the songs. More diversity would be appreciated. Syd set the standard for this soft voiced style of singing in modern R&B with her vocals as vocal lead in live Hip-Hop/ R&B/ Soul band The Internet, but well that was albums ago. It’s a bit disappointing to go from the upbeat jazzy grooves of The Internet to the simplified nature of typical modern R&B supplied to us here.
The beat for “On the Road” sounds very cliche electro-R&B, but I suppose it would still work as stock music for a club scene in a movie. This EP exemplifies static growth, but these tracks still have some effects that make them useful and essentially marketable. “On The Road” could be effective in real clubs, not just movie ones, if turned up loud enough and played and certain drop moments. The moans on “Moving Mountains” could make for decent mood music on your sexy time playlist, if you like shallow centralized lyrics and tones. “Bad Dream/ No Looking Back” gives more lyrical depth and even pseudo-romance as Syd’ sings “we only kiss when we’re fucking so we don’t get too attached / cuz if this turns into something we know there’s no looking back,” but the vocals still feel like a slighted treatment.
More of the same is a necessary concept in art. Artists have to give the audience what they came for and keep them coming back. Audiences hope that each time we go back that we will get some of what we remembered from the last time as well as something new to whet our appetite. Always Never Home will give you something, but nothing that’s better than what Syd’s given us before. These tracks could probably make some decent ambiance filler songs if you have to have more Syd, but if you want more of the real then give The Internet’s Ego Death a few more listens. Syd may stay on the road and Always Never Home, but there’s not much to the journey to see here.