BROCKHAMPTON Iridescence Album Review
Written by Chris Ramos on October 10, 2018
Label: Question Everything/RCA
Release Date: September 21, 2018
BROCKHAMPTON saturated the music scene last year.
Their Saturation trilogy showcased a band that is exciting from their immense chemistry to their elaborate music videos. Being able to market themselves efficiently, along with their arsenal of aggressive verses and catchy melodies, the group has established a strong following.
Unfortunately, this tremendous success took a hit back in May as sexual misconduct allegations arose against pivotal member Ameer Vann. After feeling the pressure radiating from the situation and looking into it carefully, BROCKHAMPTON decided to kick Vann out of the band.
This decision was most certainly the right one, as the band made it clear that they would not tolerate such behavior. However, the move garnered mixed reviews from fans. There is no doubt that the decision was difficult, as Vann had been apart of the ride since the beginning. Vann’s face being imprinted on all three Saturation album covers added a cruel element of irony.
It’s important to mention that he was the best lyricist in the collective, despite his redundant flow.
The band had to cancel their tour dates for the summer and regroup, realizing that they were undergoing a transition that knocked them off of their feet.
iridescence is a transitional record. The band decided to fuse new sounds into their style, reflect on their journey thus far and move past Vann.
As expected, the intro track “NEW ORLEANS” is explosive. I’d like to label it as another example of the BROCKHAMPTON formula, which is the group’s tendency to kick off their albums with a booming beat and jaw-dropping lyricism. Dom McLennon’s verse shines and the bridge of the song featuring Bearface; proves to be humorous.
“Boy, you know you don’t look fly
Them gold chains turn your neck green, bye”
Aside from the knock on fake jewelry, Jaden Smith joins Kevin Abstract on the final chorus which results in a brief yet enjoyable collaboration. The song smoothly fades into “THUG LIFE”, displaying cohesion. The title is a homage to legendary rapper Tupac Shakur.
With piano chords serving as the backbone behind Bearface’s singing, the song serves as a nice ballad which contrasts the heavyweight introduction to the record. I cannot stress the vocal talent of Bearface enough, as his R&B style adds plenty of soul.
On cuts such as “TAPE” and “WEIGHT”, BROCKHAMPTON delivers their classic heart to heart approach.
“WEIGHT” features gorgeous string arrangements, as Abstract talks about the fact that he wasn’t attracted to females which led to his sexuality being questioned. He experienced embarrassment, assuming something was wrong with him. This isn’t the first time that he’s addressed this personal matter.
“And every time she took her bra off my dick would get soft
I thought I had a problem, kept my head inside a pillow screaming”
“TAPE”, which samples Radiohead’s “Videotape”, is endowed with insecurity and worries. Joba’s eerie lyricism regarding the personal darkness that he continues to struggle with is disturbing.
BROCKHAMPTON’s ability to connect with listeners and communicate their issues in such a straightforward manner is a staple of their work, including this album.
“DISTRICT” and “BERLIN” both possess the potential to be big home runs for the band but the overly noisy and unpolished production kills that potential. “DISTRICT” is guilty of this crime more than “BERLIN” is.
Without a doubt, one of the biggest highlights on iridescence is the London Community Gospel Choir, whose harmonies are infectious and closes out a fantastic track in “SAN MARCOS”. The angelic chanting of “I want more out life than this” relays an ambition from BROCKHAMPTON that transcends their boy band fame. The work that they are producing with such passion and the comradery they build at every single one of their shows is more significant than the limelight.
iridescence is yet another step in the right direction for BROCKHAMPTON. Besides a couple songs, the album sounds great. Several tracks are built around a thick bass and booming drums. Piano driven ballads are placed in the tracklist appropriately. The addition of string arrangements in the album bolsters its strength sonically, and the voice distortions scattered throughout the tracklist aren’t overdone. The melodic hooks, vicious verses and introspective themes are there.
If BROCKHAMPTON decides to launch another trilogy this year, they’ve started out on a strong note.