By Eóin Donnelly
As members that existed only on the periphery of the Odd Future collective that made such an enormous impact in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s, Syd and Matt Martians were far from the most obvious candidates for success. Forming a collective with three other touring members- Patrick Paige, Christopher Smith and Tay Walker- The Internet was far from an instant triumph. Their first two albums, Purple Naked Ladies and Feel Good, failed to even break the US Billboard 200, all the while fellow Odd Future members Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean were earning huge acclaim with their seminal releases. It wasn’t until The Internet’s third album, 2015’s Ego Death, that the band began to gain some traction of its own, earning a Grammy Award nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album.
Their new single, ‘Roll (Burbank Funk)’, represents another step forward in the band’s evolution and is easily one of their greatest songs yet. Much of the improvement is down to now 19 year old Steve Lacy, a guitarist and producer who only joined the band prior to Ego Death. He’s had quite an action-packed three years since, providing wonderful features to GoldLink (‘Some Girl’), Tyler, The Creator (‘911/Mr. Lonely’), The Internet’s own Syd (‘Dollar Bills’) and what is one of 2018’s greatest songs for Kali Uchis (‘Just A Stranger’). On top of that, he released his debut solo EP Steve Lacy’s Demo, a laid-back collection of post-N.E.R.D. weirdo RnB that you know is right up Tyler, The Creator’s street, and most impressively of all he provided vocals and production on ‘PRIDE.’ from Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer-winning album DAMN. Life moves fast when you’re young, talented and in influential company.
The star of the show for The Internet has always been Syd- who with Fin released her own debut solo album last year- but it is Lacy’s vocals on ‘Roll (Burbank Funk)’ that make the intoxicating, slow-rolling groove so addictive, lulling you into a lush and luxurious world of brisk RnB, vintage funk and hallucinatory neo-soul that is slowly but surely becoming The Internet’s hallmark. “Let your heart flow”, Lacy sings, with Syd’s sweet backing harmonies adding the perfect counterbalance to Lacy’s hypnotic yet virile vocals. Complete with a suitably trippy video, ‘Roll’ is made for doing exactly that. The next time I go to Amsterdam, I’ll be requesting this one. The Bulldog staff play such great funk and RnB that I made a playlist in dedication. As what is presumably the lead single of their upcoming fourth album, ‘Roll’ is an exciting indicator of a more danceable and immediately engaging iteration of The Internet. By the time you hear the next album, the funk shall be within you!