In just one year, Brockhampton went from a virtually unknown band to a critically acclaimed, highly influential group in contemporary music. Boasting incredible productions, phenomenal lyricism and a diverse set of voices and stories, Brockhampton has become an unstoppable force. When it was abruptly announced that one of the group’s founding members, Ameer Vann, was removed from the group earlier this year, fans and the group itself were left wondering how to recover from such a loss.
What resulted, however, was the highly experimental album “iridescence.” This project remains true to the connotations of a color-changing spectrum its name holds by offering a fresh perspective on the world and an intimate look into minds of the individuals that make up Brockhampton. The album’s unorthodox production, the formerly-independent group’s first through a major label, is very industrial and cathartic, focusing largely on dissatisfaction with fame, loneliness, mental health and rebirth.
The album opens with an intense track, “NEW ORLEANS,” in which the listener is introduced to the attitude and mentality the group now possesses. This is illustrated on the track several times, when vocalist Matt Champion raps, “Don’t like how they talking to me, why they walking to me?” referring to his new celebrity status and the negative byproducts of life in the public eye. This track sets the tone for the entire album, echoing the chaotic emotions through its overstimulated production style.
The second track, “THUG LIFE,” provides a seamless transition from the opener, representing the dichotomy of the entire project. Where the record’s sound was once angry and boastful, it is now calm, introspective and nostalgic. The first two songs see the group members going back and forth between overcompensating for their feelings through anger and indulging in their emotions. This two-sided sentiment is most prominent on tracks like “WHERE THE CASH AT,” an ode to wealth, and “TONYA,” which uses the story of Tonya Harding as a metaphor for a fall from fame.
The experimental production of “iridescence” marks somewhat of a rebirth for the group — a theme touched upon on tracks like “NEW ORLEANS” and “J’OUVERT.” Members Joba and Bearface stepped up to fill the holes left by Vann’s departure, with both of them recreating their styles and taking different approaches to their vocal delivery, especially on “BERLIN,” “THUG LIFE” and “WEIGHT.”
“WEIGHT,” is the strongest track on “iridescence,” encapsulating Brockhampton’s indignant attitude. It dives headfirst into the demons each member faces, including issues regarding sexuality, self-harm, anxiety, paranoia and loneliness. The group speaks about using drugs and alcohol to suppress the demons produced by the limelight and the many new voices constantly scrutinizing them. Feelings of isolation are further explored on the album’s outro, “FABRIC,” on which Joba sings, “Don’t mind me I’m just killing time, but if you’ve got a lifeline throw it, throw it.”
Although “iridescence” is a weaker effort than the “Saturation” trilogy, its redeeming qualities appear in the more stripped down, emotionally charged tracks. The abrasive production will surely disappoint many fans and listeners, but the group’s new approach is refreshing and clearly serves as a way for the members to work through the turbulent few months they endured prior to the album’s release. While not for everyone, “iridescence” is still a solid project.