by Grant Chapel
There’s something about BROCKHAMPTON that makes each album they release a unique experience to listen to. Since their first tape All American Trash to the SATURATION trilogy, the group has consistently made compelling and addictive music; combining elements of hardcore, experimental, and pop rap. Each track on the SATURATION trilogy is a unique listen offering something new to appreciate with every replay. Despite the adversities the group has face over the past few months, BROCKHAMPTON delivers another exceptionally great album with the highly anticipated iridescence.
The album may be extremely different from SATURATION, but it still sounds like BROCKHAMPTON. The unique production and performances on iridescence really demonstrates the groups versatility as well as their growth over the last year or so. The pitching and chipmunking of some vocals is still used often in the album but does not distract as much as it occasionally would on SATURATION. They took a much more abstract and experimental approach on this album. The opening track “NEW ORLEANS” provides a hard hitting, captivating beat that mixes random sounds throughout; also heard on other tracks like “WHERE THE CASH AT” and “BERLIN.” No two tracks sound the same; each track offers a unique sound to be revisited even after several listens. BROCKHAMPTON does an extraordinary job conveying the tone and themes of a song through just the production. The album is filled with seamless transitions which make the album flow very well.
One of the elements that made SATURATION so great was how well each member played off of each other’s strengths. Unfortunately some of the chemistry of the group doesn’t seem to be present on the album. Matt Champion does bring a lot to the table but does not perform as well as he did songs like “JUNKY” or “HEAT.” The most outstanding performances on iridescence come from Joba, Merlyn Wood, and Dom Mclennon. Just from the first few tracks, Dom delivers poetic verses with flawlessly smooth flows. On “NEW ORLEANS” he packs a punch with each rhyme over the hard hitting beat of the song, but yields a very emotional verse about his depression and becoming a victim of stockholm syndrome to his demons on “THUG LIFE”; which he also discusses on “TONYA.” Also on “NEW ORLEANS” and “WHERE THE CASH AT” Merlyn gives some of his best performances on the album. He brings verses and flows that force hairs on the back of your neck to stand up.
The album works very well with the more hard hitting and fast paced songs like “J’OUVERT,” where Joba delivers an explosive verse rapping more about his anxiety, drug abuse, and dealing with fame, but the best parts of the album stem from the more depressing tracks.
BROCKHAMPTON has created some of its most heart-wrenching songs with iridescence. Kevin Abstract does not bring the same kind of addictive and catchy hooks as he did with SATURATION, but he has some of the most emotional verses on this album. The most memorable being his verse on “WEIGHT.” He raps about his past, discovering his sexuality, and some of the recent stories in the media about the controversy with Ameer Vann.
His verse is a great introduction to the song which nicely transitions into fast and heavy drums where Joba and Dom deliver great verses about their stress and pressure they feel from the position they are in hence “WEIGHT.” The best song on the album is without a doubt “SAN MARCOS” which holds some of the groups most tear-jerking verses. Joba sings more about his struggle with his past and anxiety, his verse here is just as strong as his verse on “LAMB” opening up more to audiences and creating empathy through his music. The song ends blissfully with a choir harmoniously singing “I want more out of life than this.” Having the London Community Gospel Choir on the track was a beautiful touch.
BROCKHAMPTON is a group with limitless talent and they continue to make great music despite the many troubles they have faced over the summer. Iridescence is very different from SATURATION and takes multiple listens to really appreciate it, but is an exceptional album. While Joba, Merlyn, and Dom shine the most and truly make the album great, the group has a very promising future after releasing this emotional record.
Score: 4 out of 5