Bassists rarely see the love they deserve. Your average rock fan can rattle off a couple of dozen guitarists who they admire, and about half a dozen drummers, but only maybe two or three bassists who they think are worthy of a second glance. The list usually starts with Geddy Lee, Gene Simmons, Mike Dirnt, and then trails off into mumbling and sideways glances. Maybe they’ll mention Lemmy, but probably not. It’s pathetic. For one, bassists are the backbone of the band, every band. And two, it shows how limited people’s perception of what a bass guitar is capable of in the right hands. If you want to break out of your bass bias, maybe check out a little bit of Bootsy Collins, or Thundercat, or maybe even Patrick Paige II. Actually, let’s dig into that last one, shall we?
Patrick Paige II is the bassist of the LA-based R’nB and neo-soul group The Internet. The Internet’s compositions are mostly built around the smooth and soothing melodies of Sydney Bennett’s (Syd for short) commanding and enchanting vocals. Patrick’s solo work is, not surprisingly, anchored by a conversation between his splashy, Cali-drawl and a series of poping rhythms and grooves, and this is certainly the case for his second LP If I Fail Are We Still Cool?. You might think that such a clear and simple dynamic might not be able to carry a full album, but you’d be mistaken. “So They Say” sees Patrick weaving between the snap and thrill of a sunny guitar hook like a sparrow dodging between telephone poles on hits migration south for the winter, and the funk fusion of “40,000 Feet” envisions Patrick as cruising around on a cloud, checking his reflection in the windows of passing sky scrappers, and dropping care packages of encouragement to the people below. The cool, sunset beach vibes of “Curfew” sounds like a Soundcloud collab with Tycho, while “Sun Up” turns down the heat with what could be a refreshing homage to Frank Ocean’s distant-sounding, but intimate brand of R’nB.
Just because If I Fail is a solo record, doesn’t mean Patrick is flying alone. He might be in the pilot seat, but he’s got a whole team of co-pilots ready and willing to aid with navigation, check cabin pressure, and give him back rubs when the stress starts to build up in his shoulder muscles. Some of these players will be more familiar, like his bandmate Syd, who appears on the dewy bounce and ripple of the magnetic “Ain’t Talkin Bout Much,” some less so, like upstart rapper Ohana Bam, who delivers a laid back bop and slap flow on the shiny soul revival of “Good Grace,” and some are kings in their own right, like Chicago’s Saba who makes a wheel-heisting appearance on “Freestyle” where he spits fire over a reflective pond of tubular percussion and drizzly fusion founts.
The title of the album may sound like Patrick is hedging his bets, but once you get into it, you realize that he’s laid it all on the line. And what’s more, he’s already reaping a fat RIO. If ever you make the mistake of thinking of a bassist as little more than a supporting player in the fulfillment of someone else’s dreams and designs, remember this album.
You can buy and stream If I Fail Are We Still Cool? below via Bandcamp: