Something Borrowed: Ego Death Reminded Me Not to Listen to Extremes

MA: Upon meeting Ethan I got the sense that we had similar tastes, aesthetics and interests. We’re both into who I call the greats of music such as Lana, Lorde, Adele and so on. So when he told me he wanted to do “Something Borrowed” this week, I jumped to recommend an album. The Internet is a Los Angeles group that delivers vibes. As vague as that sounds — and as their music is — they’re just a smooth groove mood. They’re a refreshing and ingenious representation of trip hop, Neo soul and alternative R&B. So, with this genre that I correctly assumed Ethan doesn’t typically listen to, I was curious to see what he’d think of their magnum opus.      

EE: I never before heard of or listened to The Internet. After listening to Ego Death, I probably won’t make it a point to seek out other music by this band. 

The first song of the album, “Get Away,” is mellow and relaxing to listen to. The lyrics are repetitive, though, and fairly shallow — “Now she wanna f*ck with me / Live a life of luxury, models in my money trees.” However, the overall sound of the song is like that of an even heartbeat that steadies the mind. 

“Gabby,” featuring Janelle Monae, follows “Get Away.” With another throbbing undertone, the name “Gabby” is slowly groaned over and over again in the chorus. Despite this, the song is poetic and lyrically far more rich than the track before it. Around the last quarter of the song there is a sudden shift to a faster rhythm and a strange cacophony of voices producing eerily discordant sounds. It was, however, a welcomed change from the monotony of the earlier part of the song coupled with the prior track. 

Repetition seems to be a theme of the album and the phrases that are repeated are almost always moaned or whined. Songs like “Just Sayin/I Tried” solidify this fact: “I tried / I tried / I tried / Just know that I tried / That I tried / I tried / I tried.” Just when you think a phrase has been exhausted, it will absolutely make a comeback — probably only seconds later. 

My favorite aspect of the album is its flow. The sounds from one track to the next glide through the ear like skates on top of ice: for the most part gentle and lovely with the occasional scratch and whine (of course, the odd shift in “Gabby” was more of a collision). The ease with which one song works itself into another, blends the album into an artifact that can easily be seen and remembered as one solid work. Whether the work as a whole is memorable is up for opinion. I personally am not walking away humming any tunes. 

All the songs seem to be reflections on life: relationships, their endings, joys of sex, hardships of money and sorrows of violence. The repetitive nature of the lyrics detracts from the true meaning of the songs.

One song, however, that gently tugged on (or maybe wiggled?) my heart strings was “Penthouse Cloud.” The song is structured as a prayer and is a commentary on the state of our world. “Did you see the news last night? / They shot another one down / . . . Father, oh Lord in heaven, is this how you saw it? / When you made your creation, is this what you wanted?” I was not expecting the pleasant melody nor the poignant message. I greeted the track with open arms.

Many of the songs were frustrating as they would start off with momentum, but lose it by the chorus. One that comes to mind in this regard is “Partners in Crime Part Three.” The song opens with “Speeding in a black jeep / Headed to the freeway / If anybody slows down / It’s a problem.” Well, my problem was that the song slowed down to a crawl. It reverts to the same breathy angst as “Gabby,” when I thought I was getting something minorly empowering and fun to listen to. 

I use music to move through emotions — either to lift myself up high (hello, Lizzo) or get deep in my bag (hey, Lana). Ego Death served neither of those purposes for me but then again, maybe I should stop going to extremes and just chill. In the words of The Internet, “I tried.” 

5/10 from me.

About Ethan Eisenberg 49 Articles
Ethan Eisenberg is a third-year psychology major and this is his sixth semester on The Oracle. He currently holds the position of Co-Editor-In-Chief, having previously held the positions of Managing Editor and Arts and Entertainment Editor. He feels privileged to exist in and work for a space that has the potential to uplift voices that may not typically be heard; he feels his experiences in psychology and journalism neatly intersect to aid in this process. When Ethan isn't Oracle-ing (yes, he considers it a verb) he is a Research Assistant on the New Paltz Evolutionary Psychology Lab, the President of the Evolutionary Studies Club and a Course Assistant for the Evolutionary Studies Seminar. Outside of academia, Ethan enjoys watching horror movies and loving his friends, family and boyfriend, Jayden.