Each song feels like a digital age take on something old school: the vibe of hearing Sly & the Family Stone or Funkadelic at a backyard barbecue is there, as the bones that make up the sound structure on Hive Mind. But “Opening Mind,” the album’s first track, sets the stage for how real instruments and computer effects coexist on the album, yin-and-yang style. A warm bass is plucked up and down the scale, paired with a notably digital beat. Synths float in the background, while chimes ring in the verses. The seductive mood the album wants to set moves forward slowly like honey with each track. “Burbank Funk” is the direction N.E.R.D. should have taken their 2010s career, while the album’s lead single “Come Over” is a silver-tongued allurement, and “La Di Da” would play perfectly from a crappy speaker on the block. There are elements of salsa, jazz, soul, and funk (all the building blocks of the golden era of hip hop) in every song, but the production doesn’t sound dated.
Sydney Bennett and and Matthew Martin have a call and response rapport and by trade vocals, with approximately half the album assuming a female POV and the other half male -- another bit of the yin and yang that balances out this LP. The two, who wrote all the songs on the album, achieve a feeling of effortlessness, even though combining organic instruments with loops, beats, and samples is incredibly complex. The vocal looping is especially impressive:both “Stay the Night” and “Mood,” for example, manipulate Bennett’s voice into a warm and intimate effect.
With Hive Mind, The Internet take the phrase “it’s a mood” to heart,impressively bending the rules of how music is produced along the way.