‘Syd tha Kyd’ shows diverse talent in debut

Eli Watson

There are two sides to Sydney Bennett: the shy songstress who first mesmerized listeners with her acid-soul track “Flashlight,” and the take-no-prisoners statement, “I slap bitches, Dad” (the infamous line first came about during an interview with MTV) that reinforced Syd’s position in Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, one of hip-hop’s most abrasive collectives. Bennett, known to many as “Syd Tha Kyd,” is mainly known for the latter. During live performances, Syd acts as Odd Future’s chief engineer/DJ, her forceful attitude present in her stage persona. From Tyler, the Creator’s catastrophic cacophony that is “Radicals” to Domo Genesis’ weed anthem “Rolling Papers,” Syd is at the helm of this multi-faceted ship, fearlessly and assertively keeping the collective intact, while sending out a barrage of unrelenting bass hits and synths that results in complete chaos.

“Flashlight” was only a mere sample of the artist’s true talent. Along with The Jet Age of Tomorrow’s Matt Martians, Syd has created The Internet, a duo that paints vibrant, psychedelic-soul oddities that begin with trip-hop escapades, and end in soulful euphoria with a more vulnerable and introspective Syd retelling narratives of love and lust.

Purple Naked Ladies relies on such direction. The album is strangely cohesive; like Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, with a dash of Erykah Badu’s Baduizm, Ladies confidently strolls down a passage of psychedelic mystery, but takes a few detours that make the journey a little less inviting than what it could have been. Singles “They Say,” “Cocaine” and “Love Song – 1” are familiar and welcoming, but it is “She Dgaf,” “Ode to a Dream” and the album’s last three songs that truly show the duo’s potential.

“Cause she don’t give a fuck,” sings Syd on “She Dgaf,” backed by crescendoes, syncopated synths and electronic hand-claps. “Ode to a Dream” features guest appearances from Kilo Kish and Coco O. “I know that I’ll never forget you girl,” Syd desperately declares, accompanied by eerie keys, concluding in a nightmarish combination of strange, otherworldly vocals and percussion. The album concludes with the infectious “Visions,” a cascading eruption of luscious keys and mechanical sounding percussion, segueing into “The Garden.” “I don’t know about you, but I’m coming down,” sings Syd, the airy keys floating above laid-back drums that explode with frenetic cymbal hits, only to end in complete solitude with nothing but the song’s main melody resonating in the distance.

Each song is hauntingly good, and the guest contributions suit their respective songs. What really drives these songs are Syd’s lyrics. At times she is timid and reserved, her soft-spoken tales of failed love and lustful experiences revealing someone who is all too familiar with the pains of physical and emotional attachment. Others, she is definitive and profound, a young woman whose heated fervor and menace is like that of Kim Gordon, Karen O and those of the riot grrrl feminist movement that became prevalent in the 1990s.

“The Garden’s” attention-catching door open in the beginning seems to embody what Purple Naked Ladies is all about. The duo presents an atmosphere that is as synthesizer-heavy and soulful as SA-RA, and as mesmerizing and mysterious as Portishead. It is easy to skip some songs; some are just muddled with premature ideas that never fully take fruition, leaving listeners unsatisfied as they search for the next best song from the group’s moody adventure. Overall, Ladies is one of those albums that you can get lost in, the production swallowing you whole and leaving you holding your breath until the very end.

Editor's note: The following music video contains explicit language and drug use.