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Syd's Solo Debut 'Fin' Can Smoke Out The Quiet Storm

Courtesy of the artist

On the internet, we can be anonymous, hitting up a dating site as "smooth0perator1" in hopes of a hook-up, or subtweeting frenemies under the comfort of an inscrutable avatar.

In The Internet, Syd Tha Kyd wanted to be anonymous, or at least not the center of attention. It's one part defense mechanism and one part shruggie emoticon, downplaying her singer status as just someone in the band instead of someone out front. That equal dynamic has served the R&B and soul band well, allowing its players to make some wildly funky and thoughtfully layered music as a unit, especially on 2015's Ego Death. Dropping the honorary used while DJing and engineering Odd Future, Syd steps out like it ain't no thing with Fin. She makes her initial reservations about going solo seem more like another project, another product.

"This album is not that deep, but I feel like this is my descent into the depth I want the band to get to," Syd told The Fader in October. "For me, this is like an in-between thing — maybe get a song on the radio, maybe make some money, have some new s*** to perform." But it's clear from the album's very first moments — a digital clang dropped from a cloud of synths, a robotic sigh still so high from a long hit — that Syd can smoke out the quiet storm.

While she worked with producers Melo-X, Rakhi, Hit-Boy and fellow Internet member Steve Lacy on Fin, the beats and the words all are driven by Syd. She has an affinity for the '90s R&B singers who kept their emotions open and voices close, like Aaliyah (see "Know") or the ladies in TLC ("Smile More," "Nothin' To Somethin'") — embracing the limitations of their range,but finding the core of the performance via self-styled confidence.

Syd herself alternates between a chill drawl and a whisper-soft head voice, but generally keeps everything low-key. The slithering "All About Me" has Syd half-sing/half-rap in a syrup of braggadocio disguised as group support ("People drowning all around me / So I keep my squad around me"), while the sultry "Body" slinks a woozy baby-maker jam.

These are the thematic valleys of Fin: hit up your crew when things get rough, and love on your honey with some respect and tenderness. All things considered, that's not a bad place to be.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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