BROCKHAMPTON begin their reinvention with a more experimental album that is still well worth your attention.
One of the breakout acts from 2017, BROCKHAMPTON established themselves as one of musics great up-and-coming talents. Conceptually, BROCKHAMPTON is more of a project than a band, currently consisting of 14 members including everything from rappers and producers to photographers. They burst onto the scene last year with the SATURATION trilogy, three albums released in a single year that showcased an incredible cocktail of musical genres and thoughtful lyricism that caught the attention of hip-hop fans worldwide. They were so good in fact, The Edge’s own David Mitchell-Baker gave all three SATURATION albums five stars.
2018 has been a much more challenging year for BROCKHAMPTON however, when it came to light founding member Ameer Vann had been accused of sexual misconduct and kicked from the band, mere weeks after signing a new record deal with RCA records. Their former fourth album titled Puppy was scrapped and work on a new project began. But even this seemed difficult with the album going through several delays and name changes as the group seemed to be struggling to move on. Iridescence is the fourth album fans have been waiting for and the beginning of a new trilogy for the band, known as The Best Days of our Lives.
Rather fittingly the album feels like a regeneration for the group, with both the name “iridescence” and the album artwork (of a pregnant woman) representing change and rebirth respectively. It is clear from start to finish this is a different BROCKHAMPTON, changed by recent events. The first track “NEW ORLEANS” slams on the gas pedal with heavy beats and a distorted whirr that gives the song an unrelenting hook. Prominent member Joba is a highlight with a delicious verse around halfway that is the first of many brilliant contributions to the album. Another heart-pounding track comes with the lead single “J’OUVERT” which bounces with energy and contains another great verse from Joba that far eclipses his offering on “Heat” from SATURATION with some serious intensity.
But BROCKHAMPTON are undoubtedly at their best when their lyrics are emotional AND their production is polished. The sixth track “WEIGHT” is an electronic track with beats ripped from the playbook of the likes of Daft Punk or Chase and Status, and is an enthralling offering. Kevin Abstract shines on this track with some deeply personal musings “I thought I had a problem/kept my head inside a pillow screaming” and “I’ve been feeling defeated/like I’m the worst in the boyband”. Another killer track is that of “HONEY” which boasts some of the best production on the album with a sample from Beyonce’s “Dance for you” as well as a remixed sample from SATURATION track “BUMP”.
The last few tracks ultimately prove to be the emotional core of the album, with the 1-2-3 hit of “SAN MARCOS”, “TONYA” and “FABRIC” adding emotional lyrics that address the bands recent difficulties head on. “SAN MARCOS” is a personal favourite with its stripped-out guitar and orchestral elements as well as raw and meaningful verses that build to a frankly beautiful choir chorus of “I want more out of life than this/I want more”. It’s the closest BROCKHAMPTON have ever come to tear-jerking and it works wonderfully. As if that wasn’t enough, follow-up track “TONYA” is another deeply powerful offering that references the film I, Tonya, itself a musing on how fame can be corrupted by personal tragedy. The track has another great offering from Joba as well as a nice verse from Merlyn towards the close before a well layered ending featuring utterings of “I don’t matter” from Matt Champion. It’s a refreshing example of a group facing their controversies head on, rather than brushing it under the carpet and is an example of what makes BROCKHAMPTON so different.
Iridescence may be a very different sounding album from the group, but it doesn’t compromise the ideals the band have instilled since SATURATION. At its core it is a solid production with deeply personal but relatable lyrics that elicit emotion in unpredictable ways. It is a turning point in BROCKHAMPTON’s career for certain, but the group have more than proven they are still at the top of their game.
Iridescence is available now via RCA Records.