‘Can Brockhampton please have a number one album’ pleaded Kevin Abstract on Twitter earlier this week. With this record, it is difficult to comprehend that this may not happen. We need to look beyond the time in which Ameer was part of the collective; Kevin also tweeted ‘the 4th album is always the most interesting. radiohead, ye, bjork, t,’, and this is definitely the case for the self-confessed boyband, who had to really push out a new creative direction since the exit of one of their most loved members.
Created at ‘Abbey Road Studios’, a haven for innovative musicianship and indisputable history, it would have been difficult for Kevin and co to fabricate a similar sound to their Saturation Trilogy. ‘J'OUVERT’ is a post apocalyptic, robotic banger that sees the members changing roles; Joba delivers his most fiery, integral verse to date, whilst Merlin’s sluggish slurs splurge over the wretchedly beautiful collection of electronic beats. Sonically, the track draws on influences from the Bristol trip hop scene, which isn’t surprising considering the album was produced in the UK. This is as strong of a sign as any of their experimentation; the track’s sound buzzes throughout the rest of the album, and you can feel the euphoria and elation they experienced when getting their hands on some new instruments.
To me, this project sounds like Brockhampton’s depression album. With what they have experienced in recent months, this was somewhat of an inevitability, but this doesn’t mean they now lack chemistry. The collective don’t bounce off each other as organically, however you cannot really blame them for developing new creative directions and drawing on new individual inspirations.
‘Iridescence’ does therefore seem a fitting title for the album, you can look at it from so many perspectives and come away hearing sounds that no one else realised. Industrial rap often highlights the inner anguish of a group; the hefty, droned beats of ‘VIVID’ and ‘FABRIC’ compliment the new found irritable flows from the likes of Joba and Matt Champion. Even Dom Mclennon sounds way more fiery than usual, the vocal effects often found on the tunes add to the emotion the guys pour out in their verses. They in-fact create contrast; often the squeaky octave they rest on juxtaposes the deep snarling vocal performances of Kevin Abstract and the rest of the group.
One of my favourite cuts has to be ‘DISTRICT’, the boisterous beat slaps hard, and connects with the contagious, harrowing hook and chorus. It is the perfect example of the contrasting squeaky and deep harmonies Brockhamton have perused on the LP, and I hope they continue to in the future. It adds to their goofy, outsider image and plants them in a void yet to be filled by any other hip hop group, and reminds me of the vocal tone Tyler the Creator adopts on his track ‘Glitter’.
The submerged rhythms of ‘VIVID’, that sit subtly under the rhymes of Matt Champion and Dom Mclennon, are incredibly smooth and maintain the dark tones the album aims to illustrate. The beginning of the track offers a blissful piano section, but after 15 seconds this is replaced by utter chaos, the track caves in on itself, transporting you to this futuristic world Brockhampton develop as the record progresses.
‘San Marcos’ offers a nice switch in pace on the record, the ballard worthy guitar work of Bareface proved just how diverse the group can be when they want to be. It is nice to see him grow as an artist, and become an increasingly prominent figure in the group; as an Irishman, he offers that versatility that makes Brockhampton a cut above your average rap collective. On this album, they prove they are much more than that label suggests, whether it is through the experimental, glitchy Bjork inspired closer ‘FABRIC’, or the soulful penultimate track ‘TONYA’, the sheer variation on display in this record makes it such an impressive come back for the boys.
Go and give it a listen, it’s definitely what you wouldn’t expect from Brockhampton, but it’s their most courageous and interesting record to date.