The inevitability of adulthood does not automatically make you ready for it; ironically and frustratingly, the moment one is considered an adult is not fixed, but set against a relative scale. Thus, one is aware of impending maturity at all times but never quite sure when it’s supposed to be achieved; are you an adult at 18 when the state says so? After college graduation? Once you’re a homeowner? Or a parent? Even if you know when that is, then what progression comes afterwards?
Sydney Bennett, aka Syd Tha Kyd, is figuring this out. At 24 years old, with a career as a member of Odd Future and front-woman of the Internet, she comes into her own on her debut, Fin, a resounding end to adolescence and an inquisitive consideration of maturity.
Fin confronts the “quarter-life crisis” phenomenon delved into on London Grammar’s debut, but where If You Wait took a somber approach, Bennett’s debut is much more provocatively curious. Rather than wallow in regrets and confusion, Bennett explores being grown the way lovers explore each other’s figures: “If I go to hell I hope my bitches get to visit” is not a declaration of good or evil but speculation. This is the complete record of an incomplete woman, detailing her existence with blunt but thoughtful rumination as a means of self-expression and self-exploration.
Bennett’s voice is like a leaf, sharp on its edges but soft on its sides, on the surface smooth but on the other side veiny and vulnerable. “I’m a grown woman” is asserted in track one, “Shake Em Off”, and it resonates; the breathy “fantasy” who whispered on the Internet’s classic, “Dontcha” now warbles in full-voice. Approaching like a shark but arriving as a seductress, the throbbing “Body” promises pleasure in exchange for sin. Conversely, “Smile More” enters with the confidence of a player, but ends up pleading by the refrain: “I know you don’t need me/But won’t you stay up underneath me?” Coupled alongside a collection of minimal, refined R&B productions, Bennett easily shifts between gangster, goddess, and grown-up depending on her mood.
Like any 20-something’s musings, Fin skirts between brash confidence and sensitivity. “All About Me” and “Nothin To Somethin” embody the assuredness of an accomplished young woman, whose past lends credence to her future. Meanwhile, the lullaby-tinted “Over” puts to sleep a relationship that’s lasted too long, while “Got Her Own” ambiguously pours over a girl from afar without making a move. It’s this juxtaposition between a maturing spirit and the remains of a hesitant young adult which allows Fin to capture these moments so authentically.
Perhaps a personal gripe, I wish Bennett delivered us a few more upbeat tracks to break a bit of the tempo. The aforementioned “Dontcha”, Ego Death’s “Get Away”, and Kaytranada’s “You’re The One” demonstrate a voice capable of running a dancefloor the same way it runs the bedroom. A lack of more movement-oriented tracks leaves most of Fin hitting a moderate to slow pace, not a bad thing, but not always exciting. Furthermore, much of Fin sounds like the Internet, which makes you ponder at points why exactly this LP is a solo rather than collaborative work.
As she’s noted in the past, Bennett has harbored self-doubt towards her solo work, afraid of how it projects her onto the world. So it feels significant she ends the record on “Insecurities”, where gospel-tinged voices echo her longing for a relationship she that sounds abusive: “You can thank my insecurities for keeping me around you, babe”. Like taxes, mortgages, and finding a primary care physician, abuse is not something many young people are educated about, yet it’s something many grown-ups must face regardless. “Said I’ll leave you tomorrow/ how about today?” is a tentative resistance, showcasing an understanding of the abuse at hand but an indecisiveness on how to proceed. But Bennett handles this situation the same way she tackles the rest of adulthood, with composure and acuteness, and ultimately that tenacity of spirit which always simmers beneath her voice. Through confronting her mistakes and shortcomings, Fin propels Syd Tha Kyd into Syd The Woman, a young adult learning the ways of the world, and how to make an impact upon it.
She may be uncertain of her talents, but she’s not uncertain of who she is, and in the case of Fin, that’s just enough. B