Album Review: iridescence by BROCKHAMPTON

After coming out with a trilogy in 2017, entitled SATURATION, BROCKHAMPTON has completely reinvented themselves with their new album iridescence, which will also be a part of a trilogy. Released on Sept. 21, 2018, the album was not always entitled iridescence, as the name of the album changed from Puppy, to Team Effort, to The Best Years of Our Lives before deciding on the current title. It focuses predominantly on the boy band’s struggles with the level of fame they have achieved, along with using experimental vocal manipulation and chaotic busy-sounding beats that create a sense of eeriness throughout many of the tracks.

NEW ORLEANS

This track is a strong start to the album, as it definitely sets the tone for more aggressive-sounding intricate beats to come. This song features Jaden Smith, who claims to be an official member of BROCKHAMPTON after spending some time with the boy band during the production of the album, in the historic Abbey Road Studios. Unfortunately, Jaden’s part is lackluster, as he only sings the second-coming of the chorus with Kevin Abstract, and does not rap his own verse. Regardless, this song pops off.

THUG LIFE

With an amazing transition from "NEW ORLEANS," this track transitions into a much more mellow sounding beat with more experimental vocal distortion. When I first heard this song, I thought it was just a beat switch up within the "NEW ORLEANS," as the transition is that flawless. This is the kind of song you want to do a two-step to, listening to bearface's soft sounding runs, his voice is undeniably smooth. A solid verse from Dom McLennon, who finally toys with pitch alteration like the rest of the members, his lyrics focus on his struggles with mental illness and self-esteem.

BERLIN

A switch-up from "THUG LIFE," this track is, like they said, "grimy as shit." It features aggressive speaker-breaking bass with chaotic background noise. The feel of this song particularly compliments Joba’s unique style of rap. As one of the most experimental rappers within the group, Joba toys around with his vocal delivery of verses, playing around with syntax, and and produces many of the tracks on this album.

SOMETHING ABOUT HIM

A complete opposite from "BERLIN," this 1 minute 30 second little love song features Kevin Abstract, as he sings (presumably) about his boyfriend, Jaden Walker. I admire the balance of this album, as the mood shifts from pit-inducing to tear-inducing frequently, and keeps the listener on their toes. This is the type of song that gives you those butterflies in your stomach and you can’t help but feel bubbly while listening to.

WHERE THE CASH AT

This song definitely goes with the European style of the album, as Merlyn Wood sounds extremely similar to a British grime rapper throughout. I really appreciate Merlyn’s contribution to this album, as his verses have been stronger and more memorable in iridescence than SATURATION. While Kevin Abstract's choruses are always impressive, I am happy that other members have stepped up. This song also features a strong verse from Matt Champion over a futuristic eerie beat.

WEIGHT

Without a doubt one of the best songs on the album, this song uniquely features all of the vocalists. It is a good halfway point in the album, as it reflects on Kevin’s experience with coming out as gay, along with showcasing other members insecurities as well. I like how gentle each of the verses are, as the song speaks about the “weight” that they have felt as they have gained fame. This song feels extremely personal to all of the rappers, as a vulnerable side of BROCKHAMPTON is showcased. There are multiple beat switch ups throughout this track and all of them are welcomed. I enjoy the outro from Joba, as he once again, kills it on this track.

DISTRICT

While this song also features all of the vocalists in the group, I particularly enjoy Dom and Joba’s verses. This track also focuses heavily on vocal manipulation, with pitch alteration, under aggressive chaotic-sounding beats. This song is a little too chaotic for me, as the beat features a siren sound that leaves me feeling anxious and overwhelmed. While I appreciate the production, I think that this song has too much going on.

LOOPHOLE

This track is a recording of an interview with DJ Whoo Kid and Cam’Ron, as they talk specifically about the troubles of the music industry. They speak about how artists often end up getting taken advantage of, as record labels use loopholes to screw up-and-coming artists. Coincidentally, BROCKHAMPTON recently signed with RCA records in April and have expressed discontent, as their group's autonomy has been stripped and their message has been diluted. This song introduces the usage of strings as it is a theme throughout the remainder of the album.

TAPE

This song doesn't do too much for me. It samples a drum beat from Radiohead’s song “Videotape,” which makes for an interesting beat. There are strong verses from Matt and Kevin, as it is one of his only rapping verses in the album. The song also features orchestral strings, as introduced in the previous track. I have a problem with the instrumental of this track, as a mood is never fully established because of too many change ups.

J’OUVERT

This song was released just hours before the entirety of iridescence was released. It was released with a music video, which follows the thermal theme of this album. This is by far my favorite song on the album, as you can’t help but bang your head along to an aggressive simple (for BROCKHAMPTON) beat. While all verses are solid, all of them are outshone by Joba's iconic verse. His lyrics are hard hitting as he says, “wish I knew better at dealing with the fame and you fake motherfuckers, guess I’m too real.” His verse begins strong and spirals into screaming, which, during my first listen, was definitely shocking, as he rants about the lack of honesty in the music industry. This song is without a doubt a banger.

HONEY

This song was hyped up a ton because it samples Beyoncé’s “Dance for You,” which is an opportunity not given to many. Unfortunately, the entire sample is practically Beyonce saying yes for a minute. It also samples their song “Bump” from SATURATION I. It is an interesting track to listen to as the production of it is what makes it so unique and good, but it doesn't deserve the hype in comparison to other tracks.

VIVID

For some reason, this track sounds similar to "HONEY" to me, as it messes around with experimental vocal distortion. Personally, I prefer "VIVID" over "HONEY," as it features strong verses from Matt and Dom, along with a catchy chorus of distorted sounds, rather than actual lyrics, that make you want to bang your head. This track also has the first reference to the album’s title, iridescence, in Dom’s verse.

SAN MARCOS

This song provides a different sound than we have heard throughout the entire album. It is both the saddest, and most unique sounding as it is a primarily acoustic track. It is the type of track that instantly puts you in your feels, regardless of listening to the previous upbeat tracks. "SAN MARCOS," the town in Texas where many of BROCKHAMPTON's members are originally from, speaks about their need for a new beginning. I look forward to seeing them live at the end of October, as I know the entire crowd will be swaying and singing along to bearface's chorus. My favorite part of this song has got to be the outro, sung by the London Community Gospel Choir, as they repeat, “I want more out of life than this, I want more.” This song is extremely emotional and a good showcase of BROCKHAMPTON's vulnerable style of rap.

TONYA

This song was released back when the album was originally entitled Puppy and performed on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon." I really enjoy bearface in this track, as his intro and his verse are extremely smooth to listen to, as usual. I particularly enjoy his repetition of "and I've been feeling like I don't matter how I used to," along with his lyrics that speak about losing everything in one foul swoop. Similar to "SAN MARCOS," this song gives me those feels, as it references the movie "I, Tonya," in which a figure skater gains fame quickly only to lose it quickly due to a scandal. This particularly resonates with the group, as sexual assault and domestic violence allegations have been brought up about former member, Ameer Vann.

FABRIC

This ending track has an extremely inventive sounding beat, as a major theme of the entire album has been their experimental production. This song touches on BROCKHAMPTON’s issues with record labels, as Kevin says “what about three CDs in one year with no label? And we signed and our story turned into a fucking fable.” The group speaks primarily about losing their creative vision and autonomy as a group by signing with RCA records in a deal to make another trilogy, similar to SATURATION.

 

Overall, BROCKHAMPTON has produced another amazing album in such a short period of time. It will be interesting to see what is to come of the group in their second album in the iridescence ​trilogy, given their discontent for their label. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this album, as it was a completely different sound than what I expected. I enjoyed the variation of moods throughout the entire album along with the thoughtful verses that oozed of realness and vulnerability. 

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