Just nine months ago, Brockhampton released their most recent album. Over the summer, they crafted two different records, ejected a band member and still managed to release a trio of summer singles that were much better than any other “summer pack” released this past season.
And now, Brockhampton has released their newest album. The first part in another trilogy, “Iridescence” stands as a bold departure and a foray onto new ground for the band. Gone are the days of just being a vibey LA-based backyard boy band.
Brockhampton has broken into the mainstream in stellar fashion. This album simply couldn’t be one of the homegrown records of the past. Instead, Brockhampton was tasked with the incredibly difficult project of making something new during a very tumultuous time in their career. There was a reason that this album was going to be called “Things We Lost in the Fire” after being slated as a sunshine album known as “Puppy.”
Still, I am happy to share my opinion here that “Iridescence” is a stellar album that encapsulates everything I love about Brockhampton at the moment and more. This might be biased on my part: The band ejected a less interesting member and pumped up the presence of those formerly in the background. Here, I am talking about vocalist and producer Bearface and producer Joba.
The other members strive and thrive on this album as well. I’m glad to hear more of Merlyn after his absence from the songs released this summer, and Kevin Abstract and Dom sound as hungry as ever.
The only real missing piece on this album is, oddly, Matt Champion. This guy has always sounded at least a little apathetic and ethereal on the other albums, but I think “Iridescence” is the only time he’s gotten completely blown away by the other members on this album whose roles make the album noisy.
The song “J’OUVERT” is the prime example of this noise. This nocturnal track completely embodies the infrared aesthetic displayed on the cover. Industrial musicality is on display in this awesome Splinter Cell–ish ringing that haunts the beat of this track, and everyone raps in a cool, subdued sort of tone—with one exception.
This exception is where Brockhampton takes a page from the emo playbook. On this track, in one of the most surprising moments on this album, Joba just screams his verse at the top of his lungs. This impassioned performance is amazing, and gives me flashbacks to the music I would listen to when I hung out with the scene crowd at my high school.
And the lyrics here are amazing. “Misunderstood since birth/Fuck what you think and fuck what you heard,” are words that match their visceral delivery perfectly. This track is just dripping with raw emotion, and it will pull these feelings out of you, the idle listener, as well.
The other surprising aspect of this track comes from Bearface’s verse. Since he’s usually reserved for the ballads on the other Brockhampton albums, it’s so nice to hear this man come through with some slick bars. “With the dogs, in my ride know the doors suicide/Paranoid, do or die, you should know we never lie,” is a pair of verses that just makes love to my ears. These lines are as sleek as the suicide doors on the car.
Also, while I’m on the subject of Bearface, he definitely is the cutest member of this boy band, bar none. That’s my opinion, but I’ll die on this hill.
Another highlight of this album is the opening pair of tracks: “NEW ORLEANS” and “THUG LIFE.” “NEW ORLEANS” is exciting because it warms you up for the rest of the album so well. Everyone on this song delivers an excellent, high-energy verse, and there are stand-out lines creeping out every which way from this track.
“If Jesus were a popstar, would he break the bank?” is my personal favorite. Also, shoutout to the surprise guest performance by Jaden Smith on this track. I was floored by it, and I think it’s one of the best musical surprises I’ve heard in a bit.
Yet the real standout with this opener is how seamlessly and beautifully these tracks transition from one to the next. I love how the drum sequence continues over both tracks and how gorgeous piano notes swoop in out of nowhere on the transition. This, paired with Kevin Abstract’s and Bearface’s vocals, creates an excellent counterpoint to the high energy of the first track.
These two songs taken together set up two expectations for this album: hard-hitting, techno-y posse cuts paired with the opposite extreme, lush and beautiful songs that blend techno influence with an overwhelming and undeniably emotive power.
This album bleeds emotional vigor. There are so many tracks that just floor me and leave me with tears in my eyes. “SAN MARCOS” is a ballad with an overwhelming ending; it feels so full that I can’t help but sing along every time it comes on.
Then there’s the airy and sparse track “TONYA” that unravels expertly as the song progresses. I’m not quite sure how this song makes me feel, but it definitely provokes a sort of sadness—the type of melancholy you might expect to get from 808s-era Kanye, but Brockhampton develops this sound so beautifully that I am at a loss for words.
The last time I felt this way about an album was Frank Ocean’s “Blonde,” and I’ve listened to that album well over 1,000 times at this point. There’s something about “Iridescence” that alludes to the same sort of modern experimentality exuded by “Blonde.” Tracks from “Iridescence” like “HONEY” or “WEIGHT” have a clear sense of emotion that could only exist in the 21st century; the same was true for tracks like “Skyline To” or “Futura Free” from “Blonde.” Brockhampton has struck it out of the park…once again.