Review Summary: While The Internet certainly appear capable of hitting the mark, Purple Naked Ladies falters because it attempts to be far more than it is, leaving it as nothing more than a broken collection of half-realized ideas
As I approach a new Odd Future release I find myself readying the proverbial grain of salt, and while I’m well aware of why that is the case, I find myself wondering if the more violent and bombastic tendencies of Tyler and, to a lesser extent Earl, have done more damage than good to the reputation of the collective not as a whole, but to its more conscious leaning alumni. That The Internet (Syd Tha Kid and Matt Martians) will undoubtedly be tarred with the same brush as their more journalist-baiting cohorts is of little surprise, but being guilty by association unfortunately places this sub-group into a position where it becomes increasingly difficult to remain objectified when discussing them. Outside of possibly Frank Ocean, by the group’s own hand has their reputations preceded them, and by comparison those same fans who became riveted by a young African-American who proceeded to hang himself to the soundtrack of his own apocalyptic hip hop hangover won’t find much to rave about with the neo-soul doldrums and blunted r&b that The Internet employs so readily.
At its most obvious Purple Naked Ladies
is an album that tries to assimilate the more thoughtful soul poetry of Sade and Erykah Badu into the laptop culture of the present day, and while from a strictly musical perspective it manages to capture the attitude of repressed feminist identity, when the album speaks
it just doesn’t really have anything grandiose to say. It seems to go to great lengths to avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as a statement. There’s loose generalizations aplenty, and while Syd (who handles the primary vocals) occasionally hits the mark from a racial and sexual point of view, too often does the album fail to provide worthy commentary on anything truly exceptional. Track names like ‘She DGAF’ and ‘ Cunt
’ seem pre-loaded with the kind of juvenile ferocity one would expect as commonplace from this brat pack consortium, but there’s a clear lack of follow-through, as if any and all punches this album could have pulled have been deliberately held back in fear of certain one-sided comparisons.
The production suffers a similar fate as well, simply because it attempts to cover ground that at times seems far too obviously out of reach for this young duo. It’s essentially a soul album of sorts, more of the acid variety due to its blunted aesthetic and tendency to wander rather than fixate on any cemented position. But when it awkwardly segues between moments of futurist symphony and tumbling blocks of Jazz-like improvisation it only ends up feeling incredibly forced, as if the duo felt the need to bring every one of their influences into the album. And while that certainly makes for interesting listening, it’s less creative and more over indulgent. Which is really the main problem surrounding the entirety of the OF collective; as a group of young musicians (in age and musical careers), they’ve yet to master the ability of refinement and structure. Far too often do the tracks here wander far beyond their borders, and perhaps in more experienced hands they could have been salvaged by expertly roping them back into submission, but whether these discourses were an intended design or not, Syd & Matt simply aren’t adept enough at hitting us with such an “artful” schtick.
Which is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this album, because any and all of the great ideas presented here are simply that; any halfway interesting endeavor is either quickly discarded or frustratingly bereft of further exploration and expansion. It’s an album engaged more in smoke and mirrors than anything wholly concrete, and while it will surely serve some purpose relegated to the background as an accompaniment to certain pharmaceutical endeavors, it’s too crushingly ambivalent to the idea of being anything more than that. Which is a shame, because there’s obvious talent wrapped up in this album, it’s just apparently stepped out of the office for awhile.