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Iridescence review

by Andrew Ochoa, Features Editor

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Album Title: iridescence

Release Date: September 21, 2018

Label: RCA

Rating: 9/10

The world has forced Brockhampton to change, and they’ve done so strikingly.

In March, the group–shortly after their rise to fame following their immensely popular Saturation trilogy–signed to major label RCA Records.

In May, lead vocalist and face adorning three of the band’s albums, Ameer Vann, was kicked out of the group in response to abuse allegations. In the summer, Brockhampton spent time in London on tour, giving them inspiration to once again retitle their already several-times-retitled fourth studio album and, apparently, move to England. As a whole, the group seems to be in a much more popular, hectic, and confusing place compared to the relative peace and obscurity of the release of their first mixtape or even album. Iridescence is a stunning reflection and exploration of this.

JOBA, AKA Russell Boring, the group’s vocalist and producer, raps on the third verse of “San Marcos”, “When you’re torn between reality, and a choice you could have made I should have made, they’re not the same, I’m not the same Maybe I’m broken, either way I’m clinging on closely I know it’s unhealthy, appreciate your patience I know that I’m selfish, do my best to be selfless I know that I’m changing, I know that I’m changing.” Aside from the expectedly introspective and candid lyrics from a typically pensive group, the verse provides an example of the themes regret, betrayal, and change that pepper the album. Whether over the circumstances of Vann’s outing, the reaction to newfound fame, or various personal stories, the group seems in a reflective mood, noticeable even for their usually gloomy output. The song “Weight” encapsulates much of the group’s angst, beginning with a verse from Kevin Abstract covering initial struggles of his personal life, and later lines from members JOBA and Dom McLennon about more recent grapples with popularity and dishonesty. Aside from few but memorable faster tempo beats such as “New Orleans” or “Vivid” the album reads as a meditation on the very specific whirlwind that only Brockhampton, with their position in the music industry and popular culture, could deliver.

Sonically, the album is experimental in familiar ways. For a band always blurring lines between r&b, hip-hop, pop, etc., this entry falls in the same intersection the group typically has while pushing even further. Distortion and autotune effects, while smoother than on previous works, are heard often throughout. Songs bleed into one another and will switch beats at random, such as the heavy bass and drum kit under JOBA screaming his verse on “J’ouvert”, to the unexpected horns that come in immediately following on Merlyn Wood’s verse. The album has a similar experimental sound to Saturation III while bringing back many somber sounds of the first Saturation album, making for a fresh yet recognizable sounding series of songs.

Fans of Brockhampton will enjoy the album, newcomers will find it as interesting and harsh as any new listener of the cutting-edge group would. The depth of the work’s strengths come not as an album, but as a mark of adaptation and an important turning point in the history of a group just disenchanted with the nature of a boy band.

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