Albums

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Soul - Released July 20, 2018 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Thanks to Ego Death, their third album from 2015, The Internet has reached a wider audience… And yet, Purple Naked Ladies released in 2011 and Feel Good, released two years later, had already highlighted the soulful voice of their female singer Syd Tha Kyd and the rather sophisticated and mostly minimalist sounds from Matt Martians, both members of the Odd Future collective. The Internet was tackling different sections of the soul music, with a preference for 90s nu soul, sometimes veering toward R&B or even hip-hop. Three years later, the orgy of sensual beats that are most of all as languorous as ever is still on the menu of their fourth opus, Hive Mind. In its DNA, The Internet is viscerally chill and this chill & laid back philosophy even becomes here an ever more mastered trademark. A sound and an attitude that mean that none of the thirteen songs from the album will be obvious to your ears on the first listen. With its dreamy melodies, Hive Mind, like all the deep works, is only understood with time. It’s a luxury in 2018 to take your time… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul - Released September 30, 2016 | Saint Records - Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Solange Knowles started writing her third album in New Iberia, Louisiana, a town where her maternal grandparents lived until a Molotov cocktail was thrown into their home. That setting helps explain how A Seat at the Table turned out drastically different from Knowles' previous output. There's no revisitation of beachy retro soul-pop and new wave akin to "Sandcastle Disco" or "Losing You." Nothing has the humor of "Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work" or the bluntness of "Fuck the Industry." There certainly aren't any love songs in the traditional sense. Instead, surrounded by a collaborative throng that includes Raphael Saadiq, Dave Longstreth, and Adam Bainbridge, Knowles composed and produced alleviating pro-black reflections of frustration and anger. They regard persistent dehumanizing burdens dealt to her and other persons of color in a country where many are hostile to the phrase "Black Lives Matter" and the equality-seeking organization of the same name. Remarkably, tender elegance is the mode for much of the album's duration, as heard in the exquisitely unguarded "Cranes in the Sky" and dimly lit left-of-center pop-R&B hybrids "Don't You Wait" and "Don't Wish Me Well." Those songs crave release and reject character assassination and stasis while hinting at inevitable fallout. Their restrained ornamentation and moderate tempos are perfectly suited for Knowles, an undervalued vocalist who never aims to bring the house down yet fills each note with purposeful emotion. When the rhythms bounce and the melodies brighten, as they do during a short second-half stretch, the material remains rooted in profound grief and mystified irritation. In "Borderline," a chugging machine beat and a lilting piano line form the backdrop of a scene where Knowles and her partner tune out the world for the sake of their sanity. Then, after Nia Andrews and Kelly Rowland's half minute of proud harmonic affirmation, along comes "Junie," a squiggling jam on which André 3000 makes like the track's namesake (Ohio Players and Parliament legend Junie Morrison), where Knowles delivers a sharp metaphorical smackdown of a cultural interloper like it's merely an improvised postscript. All of the guests, from Lil Wayne to Kelela, make necessary appearances. The same goes for Knowles' parents and Master P, who are present in the form of short interludes in which they discuss segregation, self-reliance, cultural theft, and black pride. These segues shrewdly fasten a cathartic yet poised album, one that weighs a ton and levitates. ~ Andy Kellman
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Soul - Released July 1, 2016 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Maxwell spent part of the eight years between his third and fourth studio albums walking the Earth, attempting to experience a life resembling that of a human. One of neo-soul's most visible faces, along with Lauryn Hill and D'Angelo, he had been on the music industry's hamster wheel for most of his twenties and needed some tangible inspiration. At some point he got down to scheming and quite a lot of recording; BLACKsummers'night is the first release of a trilogy, with BlackSUMMERS'night (rooted in gospel, with a twist, apparently) and Blacksummers'NIGHT (promised as a disc of slow jams) to follow. Just as he arrived in 1996, offering an alternate option to the exaggerated masculinity that was dominating contemporary R&B, he returns as the airwaves are stuffed with raging hormones expressed through Auto-Tune. He has made no concessions to them. BLACKsummers'night is all devotion, regret, and heartache, written with Now collaborator Hod David and played by a session band, including a horn section, that sounds closer to a touring band that has been supporting the singer for years. The musicians morph with every shift in emotion through arrangements that are unfailingly exquisite and sensitively nuanced, even when they are briskly played. If the singer got into adventures while he was away, he does not detail them during these 38 unified minutes, but he did go through a serious, failed relationship, just as "Pretty Wings," the album's floating pre-album single, suggested. Like the real-life flip side to Al Green's "Simply Beautiful" -- the song Maxwell performed at the 2008 BET Awards, signaling his return -- it's catharsis through bittersweet elegance, equal in its enamored resentment ("You toyed with my affliction/Had to fill out my prescription") and remorse ("I came wrong, you were right/Transformed your love into like"). Although the rest of the album leaves plenty of space for the most common form of pleading, the disarming "Fistful of Tears" is as impassioned as the steamiest moments and indicates the complexity of Maxwell's relationship: "'Cause I go insane, crazy sometimes/Trying to keep you from losing your mind/Open your eyes, see what's in front of your face/Save me my fistful of...tears." For all its dimensions and progress, the album is simultaneously designed to ensure that devoted fans will feel the wait was worth it. After all, its opening lines are "Make me crazy, don't speak no sound/I want you to prove it to me in the nude," and they are sung in falsetto. ~ Andy Kellman
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Soul - Released December 15, 2014 | RCA Records Label

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection JAZZ NEWS - Grammy Awards

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Soul in the magazine