Released: August 17, 2018
Ariana Grande chose an apt title for 2018’s Sweetener. Refined with the poppy melodies you would expect from the Pop diva, her latest outing is often nothing more than filler meant to represent something tastier. Like putting Splenda in your coffee, you’re missing out on the real sugar somewhere else on Spotify.
Boasting chart-topping singles such as “God is a Woman” and “No Tears Left to Cry”, Sweetener delivers candy-coated synth to quell radio needs. With appearances by Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliott and Pharrell, Grande continues her standing as a top 40 artist among equally successful peers. The album does begin to falter however, when duck soup tracks begin to fade into one another showing a lack of diversity. While messages stay positive and representative of Grande’s peppy persona, many songs do not warrant a listen because they all feel the same.
Songs that may satisfy Arianators include dreamy “R.E.M.” produced by Pharrell, or her more personal tangents on love from “everytime” and “pete davidson” an eponymous track based on her SNL-star fiance. The standouts such as these give the album a chance in people’s libraries, but Sweetener may only sit well with the biggest fans of Ariana Grande.
Released: July 20, 2018
Los Angeles-based alternative R&B hybrid, The Internet shines through with recent album Hive Mind, the first collective album for the rising youthful artists since 2015’s Ego Death. Syd Barrett’s smooth sanguine vocals are backed by the neo-funk feel of the instrumental members. Steve Lacy’s guitar driven grooves provide a solid basis for their first thorough album.
Four album releases in, The Internet hits a consistent mark with Hive Mind. Their underrated style breathes depth through all tracks, an ethereal effect that lends to a timelessness in production. What makes Hive Mind work is how focused it is on instruments. This classic yet modern take feels fresh each listen. Barrett often sings about the start and ending of relationships, such as with “It Gets Better (With Time)”. Also noteworthy, is sporadic spiels related to the songs they follow. “Trials we face bring pain and sorrow, but resistance, sir, is strength. The easy path rarely leads to what our heart truly desires,” Big Rube proses on living life. “In this life we must face many a worthy challenge for the outcome to satisfy us.”
The Internet still has room to grow in their early careers. Hive Mind represents a peak for the innovations made in fused genres. Alongside groups such as Tyler, The Creator’s Odd Future and hard-hitting BROCKHAMPTON, The Internet continue to create the new explosive sound.