Great neo-soul balances bump against drift—rhythmic pulse vs. coasting ambiance—and even when things get weird, it is beholden to that almighty groove. But Purple Naked Ladies, the debut album by Odd Future R&B spin-off The Internet, sounds like it’s running diagonally over the works. A woozy swirl of exotica, elevator music, Soulquarian psych, and Sade, the record is a mess—sometimes lovely, but a mess all the same. Beat-anchored reveries like “The Garden” and “Web Of Me,” whose surging density recalls Dan The Automator’s best electronic blues, get the mix right, with Syd Tha Kyd’s husky, disembodied coo sticking to goopy, synth-heavy tracks (co-produced by Syd and Matt Martians) like resin to the inside of a bong.
Elsewhere, the pair’s chemistry is unstable. Pretty as it is, “They Say/Shangrila” feels watery, like it’s floating a few feet above the drums. “She Dgaf” rides in on an easy bossa-nova lilt, but is soon knocked sideways by a flurry of lo-bit bass hits. And the tempo-hopping space odyssey of “Cunt” should’ve been split into three demos, then whittled into one song.
There’s no shortage of inspiration on Purple Naked Ladies, and plenty of memorable asides (such as Kilo Kish’s Valleyspeak verse on “Ode To A Dream”), but without that blessed cohesion that is the groove, Purple Naked Ladies is an alternately jaggy and listless dream, rather than the narcotic romp it is meant to be.