Following sexual assault allegations against one of its members, it seemed as if hip-hop boyband Brockhampton may collapse, even after all their success. Coming off of their successful “Saturation” trilogy, two sold-out North American tours, and a newly inked RCA record deal, Ameer Vann’s exit from the group was a shocking blow to the rising boy band. After canceling the release of their summer-themed album “Puppy” and remaining tour dates, Brockhampton took time off to rethink the future of the group. “Iridescence” is a clear result of this regroup; on the album, the boy band flaunts a new swagger, while still maintaining the introspective lyrics that fans have come to love.
As usual, Kevin Abstract and company wasted no time in establishing their presence on the fourth studio album. “New Orleans” features aggressive and bombastic verses from all members over jolting synth chords and electronic sound effects. This new style of production becomes emblematic of the rest of the album, with European techno influences apparent. However, producer Romil Hemnani, Jabari Manwa and Kiko Merley don’t lose their hip-hop roots, as represented by the track “Berlin.” The track features a heavy bass over motorcycle engine noises, but transitions into smooth, sweet chords, which have become a staple in Brockhampton’s repertoire.
One of the most prominent observations that can be made from “Iridescence” is the sheer variety of different moods and genres on the record from all vocalists. On the tracks “Where The Cast At” and “J’ouvert,” Merlyn Wood and Joba Boring deliver grimy, intense verses and hooks that reveal a newfound aggressiveness from the group. However, tracks such as “Weight” and “Tape” represent completely different directions. On these tracks, Abstract and others speak candidly about topics ranging from sexuality to family troubles.
In addition to its instrumentals, “Iridescence’s” song structure is a surprising change from its trilogy. Instead of focusing on the usual sticky hooks, the group really hones in on delivering verses on the struggles of their recent fame and anxiety. While efforts to really bring focus around their verses succeeded, for the most part, a few songs left room for improvement. A lack of a catchy hook or chorus on songs such as “District,” “Something About Him,” and “Thug Life” reduces the same replayability value that we got out of the “Saturation” series. At times, it feels as if verses drag on for longer than they need to due to the lack of a prominent chorus.
Overall, “Iridescence” is a major contrast to the “Saturation” trilogy in terms of productions. Brockhampton has made it clear that they are willing to experiment and test their own boundaries, as this record actually moves in directions that we never thought we would see explored. However, there are still constants in this record that have carried over from their previous three records. Boring still continues to deliver emphatic verses. Wood is still the group’s hype man. Matt Champion still provides steady doses of the clever lyrics that have made him a fan-favorite. Dom McLennon still comes with his strategic wordplay. Bearface still provides his soft, soothing voice. Abstract still delivers heavily personal and relatable lyrics that resonate with the fan base.
While “Iridescence” is a bold new direction for Brockhampton, they still maintain many of their traits and characteristics of the past.
Favorite Tracks: “Where The Cash At,” “Weight,” “Tape,” “J’overt”