With their ironically un-googleable name and association with ground-breaking rap crew Odd Future, one would think The Internet were at the very least incapable of making a boring record. But unfortunately, that’s exactly what Ego Death is. Mundane with a capital ‘m’ it’s an album totally devoid of risk and experimentation, and though never terrible per se, it’s proof that playing things straight can be a musical kiss of death.
A chilled sensibility dominates the proceedings. Indeed, the most uptempo moment of the album occurs during the opening strains of Just Sayin’/I Tried, and even then the music is hardly going to raise the average listener’s pulse rate. Although such a laidback tone is not in and of itself a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, in the case of Ego Death, The Internet seem to be confusing simplicity with laziness. Album opener Get Away, a track centred around a simple beat and reverb heavy vocal work, is nice, but in an inoffensive, neutered kind of way. It never really feels deserving of much attention, and though it does drip with a certain amount of mood, it fails to leave much of an impression, a criticism that could be levelled similarly at tracks like For The World and Special Affair.
Nonetheless, despite the forgettable nature of many of the tracks, the album does contain a few nice moments. Gabby, though largely blighted with the same lacklustre drive that marks out much of the album, benefits from a hammering electro line and the work of guest musician Janelle Monae. Indeed, all of Ego Death’s guest spots impress. Vic Mensa does some fine work on Go With It, and Tyler the Creator briefly injects some much needed energy into seven minute plus album closer Palace Curse, whispering and chatting away in his reliably anarchic fashion.
On the whole, however, Ego Death is an album that seems to actively relegate itself into the background. Minimalism, subtlety and a languid pace can be used for great gains, but here, The Internet seem to be stalling rather than cruising, and so often the music grinds to a dead halt.