Harry Hetherington finds BROCKHAMPTON’s immensely enjoyable single a good sign amidst the group’s effective rebirth
Following a turbulent few months for BROCKHAMPTON, they are beginning to carve out a new path in anticipation of their upcoming LP, The Best Years of Our Lives. The group have released a trio of singles which have further amped up the maximalism and self-assurance key to the success of last year’s fantastic SATURATION album trilogy.
‘1998 TRUMAN’ is the second of these tracks and shows that their penchant for the idiosyncratic has not left them. It starts with a sample of the cult leader Jim Jones, of Jonestown Massacre infamy, speaking on consumerism. His maniacal ravings are matched by a typically crazed chorus from Merlyn Wood, in his rightful place at the hook end of a song, where his unique style: ‘Gimme no drugs, lend me some love’, he howls. Joba’s verse weaves between harmony and creepiness, as he sings, ‘it’s okay to fall in line, just don’t look back / That’s a long ass line that I’m not in’. The song is clearly a fan-pleaser, showcasing the individual talents of its members. Dom McLennon, the group’s most skilled rapper, grounds the song with its most lyrically complex verse: ‘We mix new edition with nuclear fission / I don’t do auditions, I don’t ask permission […] The future is leaning / Revolutions started streaming’.
Towards the end of the track, BROCKHAMPTON drastically switch the mood, to slow guitars and tender vocals from Kevin Abstract and Bearface, with the latter usually used towards the end of grandstanding songs like on ‘TEAM’, which closed last year’s SATURATION III. As solid as Bearface’s contribution is on its own, doubtless giving it variety, it is questionable how necessary it is to the success of ‘1998 TRUMAN’. However, coupled with Abstract’s refrain (‘And if I could erase who you thought I was’), this section lowers the mood down to a more human vulnerability. It calls back to the underlying insecurity of the song, evident in Matt Champion’s paranoid lyrics: ‘Hear them lil’ voices all up in my ear […] Why do I care what they say? / I do not care what they say’. What consistently elevates BROCKHAMPTON’s releases is this fusion of positivity with the stark personal admissions of the group in their work, showing an internal perspective on a world seemingly closing in. Their adaptability comes through on these new releases, with ‘1998 TRUMAN’ a highlight, and it gives hope that the heights of the SATURATION trilogy may be matched in the future.