“Today I’m only human, but know that when I die, my grave gon’ be my music, my soul is living through it”.
Those are some of the first lines that woozily bubble up from “All About Me”, the first single from Syd’s debut, Fin, which perfectly set the tone for the rest of the record, out now in it’s entirety via Columbia Records.
Sydney “Syd” Bennett’s name – or more likely, her music – has probably hit your radar on a number of occasions. Perhaps it popped up when she was an early member of the LA-based hip-hop collective Odd Future, acting as the groups DJ while producing material like 2011’s Raunchboots mixtape (under her earlier alias Syd tha Kyd). Maybe you recognise her as the voice of neo-soul outfit The Internet, or quite possibly you’ve heard one of her features, like “You’re The One” from Kaytranada’s acclaimed 99.9% (XL Recordings) in 2016.
Fin marks Syd’s first full-length solo effort, with production split pretty evenly between both herself and some household names, notably Hit-Boy (“Shake ‘Em Off”), Melo-X (“Body”) and Rahki (“Insecurities), with Bennett handling the majority of the writing duties.
The album kicks off with the Hit-Boy produced “Shake ‘Em Off”, a hazy slow burner that preemptively lays out the album’s themes of ascension, sex, inebriated elations followed by questionable decisions, and hard work paying off. Syd’s lyrics, full of bravado and swagger are delivered with an assured confidence. There’s no bragging being done here, just a statement of how things are: it’s her time and she’s got this.
Generally speaking, Bennett’s voice doesn’t exercise a lot of range in comparison to some of her peers like say, Kelela or SZA, but that is exactly why it works so well here. Rather than soaring above your head, her voice hangs hauntingly around your head like vapour, its syrupy tones spreading all over the frequencies almost to the point of becoming a completely unique instrument. That being said, we do catch occasional glimpses of her vocal prowess, chiefly on “Smile More” and “Know”, one of my personal favourites, where her airy dreamy falsetto contrasts really nicely against the song’s ‘chopped n’ screwed’ vocal editing.
Even with this incredibly strong solo showing, Bennett has maintained in interviews that her main focus lies with The Internet, the forward-facing soul/R&B group she fronts (her band mate Steve Lacy handled production on the aforementioned “All About Me”), and some of the group’s sensibilities certainly bleed into Fin, especially on the smouldering “Insecurities” which deceives it title by rounding out the record on a dreamy hopeful note, accompanied by a killer change up in the bridge section.
There are a few points where the album as a whole drags a bit and things get a little sleepy so it may not be the go-to party record that some were hoping for. In fact, arguably the heaviest cut “No Complaints” feels like a bit of an afterthought, a formulaic trap track that doesn’t feel as polished as the rest of the songs, but at just over a minute long, I think it aims to be more of an interlude or passing thought. Overall, Fin really feels like a broad story, something you’ll want to experience from start to finish, which is very refreshing in a time when a good chunk of R&B/rap albums are made up of second-rate tracks packaged alongside a major single.
Why not come and see us at your local Richer Sounds store today to have a listen to Fin (or any music, for that matter!) and test out our massive range of speakers.
Author: Colin, Chiswick store