Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • Ego Death [Columbia, 2015] A-
  • Hive Mind [Columbia, 2018] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Ego Death [Columbia, 2015]
It's quite an effect, Syd the Kyd murmuring a love man's "girl" to the object of her sexual desire. It might even be easier for a guy to identify with her, although since women tend both more empathetic and more polymorphous than men, maybe not. But either way there's a healthy temptation to believe Syd's desire is also affection. Her small, confident, capable voice is tough because, as a lesbian competing in a man's world both musically and erotically, she has to be tough. But it's also tender. And although that mainly means she's singer-writer-bandleader enough to make it seem so, please allow me to believe there's more to it. Inspirational Verse: "We don't fight, we just fuck / I'm in like, she's in love / She gave in, I gave up / And we just live in the moment." A-

Hive Mind [Columbia, 2018]
Syd has the virtue of enjoying her success without getting a big head about it--she's so sensible she could already be squirreling away Roths and 401-Ks. And fine though she is solo, you can hear why she sticks with her group. Steve Lacy's skittering subtlety on guitar and solid quietude on bass suit what we might as well call her spirituality, a gentleness that never comes across genteel or weak or connects explicitly to her unassuming lesbianism, although you begin to sense a yen for serious romance after enough fooling around. "Look What U Started" is a kissoff song. But not only do you believe she's in the right, you notice how unvindictive she sounds. And then you go back and suss that "Next Time/Humble Pie" posits a second meet-up with a honey she has her eye on before she can finally dare a simple "I said hello." So maybe she's not spiritual after all. Maybe she's just shy. A-