After ten tumultuous months and three cancelled projects, BROCKHAMPTON’s fifth studio album and first installment of their second trilogy, recorded at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London, is packed with an unexpected array of sonic experimentation and deeper confessional lyricism that reaches beyond the safety of the three Saturation albums.
BROCKHAMPTON have had their feet firmly planted in the alternative hip-hop world since their release of their first LP All-American Trash in March 2016. Since then, the group has distinguished themselves with their emotional lyricism focused on the difficulties of poverty, independence, social rejection, personal identity and addiction that many listeners could feel strong relations to. Leader Kevin Abstract has While this deep, confessional lyricism is certainly still present, the themes on iridescence primarily address the members coping with the hardships of massive public attention and the draining lifestyle that fame brings. Recorded over a ten day period at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London, the group certainly made use of their time to create an entirely new BROCKHAMPTON sound.
Tracks such as “THUG LIFE”, “WEIGHT”, “TAPE”, “SAN MARCOS”, and “TONYA” display the darkest recesses of the group’s main rappers (Kevin Abstract, Joba, Matt Champion, Dom McClennon, and Merlyn Wood) minds combined with the harmonic, passionate singing from Bearface. Each member shares a different form of psychological struggle with issues such as loneliness and depression, and they did not hesitate to address these extensively on the record. The first verse of “WEIGHT” has Kevin Abstract narrating through his experiences as an LGBT youth
Most of the rest of the album balances out that soft sentimentality with bold experimentation and raw aggression. Drawing upon U.K. grime hip-hop on tracks such as “BERLIN”, “WHERE THE CASH AT”, and “DISTRICT”, the boy-band combines the style of their hard-hitting, unique trap and r&b inspired beats they are known for with heavy, droning electronic dance music that cuts through the passionate delivery of intense verses. Lyrics follow suit to this style, with themes focusing on anger over the vanity and cruelty of the music industry combined with the internal demons of the boyband’s members. it does not carry the same natural coolness and catchiness that the group stayed consistent with on their previous projects. A listener not already acquainted with BROCKHAMPTON’s unconventional background in hip-hop would be more likely confused rather than intrigued by it.
Iridescence is an album that isn’t afraid of expanding the limits of the Brockhampton sound. After kicking key member Ameer Vann out of the group over sexual abuse allegations in May, the collective went through a summer of disorder and public uncertainty about the group’s future. Brockhampton capitalized on this drama in a display of the darkest, angriest corners of its members’ psyches, with the sacrifice of the contagious elements of the best tracks of their revered previous trilogy.
Album Review By: Joe Caggiano