Album Review: Brockhampton - Iridescence | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Album Review: Brockhampton – Iridescence

Following a tumultuous year of highs and lows, Music writer Kieren Williams argues Brockhampton's latest record is their most stylistically accomplished yet

Brockhampton are back. Gone are the days of the Saturation albums. They now have a label (RCA) at their back and an expectant audience in front of them. The Abbey Road crafted album dropped September 21st and the self-proclaimed boy band showed a new maturity in their music. Iridescence is a more refined and honed sound than their previous bodies of work, an improvement across the board and perfect encapsulation of where the group are. It’s the world of a boy-band who take equal eclectic cues from hip-hop, pop, punk and more, whose worlds have recently been thrown into turmoil with the allegations against former member, Ameer Vann, of sexual misconduct. The rawness of this wound, of this loss and their struggles, all shine through in songs like ‘SAN MARCOS’ and ‘TONYA’.

Iridescence is Brockhampton standing in front of the world and presenting themselves, for better or worse
It feels like the Saturation tapes were warm ups in a way, testing waters for the collective’s sound and taste. As a multimedia entity producing creative content across the board, for them, it was always about more than the music. With Iridescence, that really comes to light with their video and merchandise releases alongside the album. This is a more well-rounded and complete project, it’s a brilliant picture of Brockhampton, or who they are and where they are. Iridescence is Brockhampton standing in front of the world and presenting themselves, for better or worse; they’ve toured, travelled the world and come to London and this is who they are. Iridescence is a statement.

Whilst overall, it may not be as upbeat and hard and fast as some of their previous works, it does start this way. On ‘NEW ORLEANS’, Dom McLennon opens energetically and the band continues this way. Kevin Abstract raps the hook that will be one to keep an eye out for at their live performances and this song even features (one of two on the album) Jaden Smith. Through the next few songs, the album takes a more sombre note as they deal with their own troubles in life, with love, loss and struggling to make it as artists. From the beginning, they have brought an unashamed honesty to their music and this continues into this album amazingly. Kevin Abstract is gay and not afraid to tell the world this, as he said in an interview with Radio 1’s Annie Mac, he exists - and succeeds - in a homophobic space to combat homophobia. Joba opens up about suicidal thoughts and Dom McLennon grapples with masculinity, worrying that he’s not tough enough.

From the beginning, they have brought an unashamed honesty to their music and this continues into this album amazingly
The band don’t hold back as their production goes from borderline orchestral to grating electronic to smooth R&B synths. Their range of talent is summed up in the first song of this album when Dom McLennon says they're ‘unintentionally swerving in every lane.’ That’s what they do, their songs range from sad pop ballads on ‘SAN MARCOS’ tipped with a choir at the end lamenting life, to hard-hitting group raps that harken back to Odd Future or D12 songs as they swagger across the production with catchy hooks on ‘NEW ORLEANS’ to tear-jerkingly honest songs like ‘TONYA’ where the group confront their darkest thoughts with the albums other feature, serpentwithfeet.

Overall Iridescence is a more sombre, mature take to their music. They worry about their families, about money, about loving and being loved or a lack of both, they tackle mental health and loneliness, grapple with fame and success. They do it as a family, as Brockhampton, the boy band that set the internet on fire, though. The last track, ‘FABRIC’, is a brutally honest finale where they confront their troubles; Dom worries about being ripped off like Nikola Tesla was when he came to America, Kevin struggles to deal with a life in the limelight, Joba asks for help for those who could offer it and Bearface laments about people trying to leech off of his success. It ends on a contrasting note, though; they declare these are the ‘best years of our life’, a statement proclaimed for better or worse from a band who’s had two of the best years in music. This is a profound statement on Brockhampton’s best work yet, on their most cohesive and impressive album to date. It has ups and downs and spans genres and does everything you could hope for from a Brockhampton album and so much more.

'Iridescence' is available now via Question Everything / RCA Records.

A degree that's Lara Croft, a blog that's way too personal, a penchant for raising cain and an inability to shut up (ask my kickboxing coach) (@ASAPKieren)



Published

18th October 2018 at 7:00 am

Last Updated

18th October 2018 at 11:52 am



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