BROCKHAMPTON’s ‘iridescence’ marks new era in the boyband’s history

Listening to some of the boyband BROCKHAMPTON’s top hits can be jarring,  but in a decisive, clearly-defined way. The talent comes across loud and clear. The “Saturation” trilogy of albums established the rap group as preeminent kings of the game, and with such distinctive music, it was easy to be excited for the band’s fourth album. But the style isn’t recycled; “Iridescence” is still reengineered BROCKHAMPTON. It’s a different album, but listening to “Iridescence” feels like hearing the band for the first time.

“Iridescence” plays to old strengths at first. Where the “Saturation” trilogy moves from fast to slow songs, “Iridescence” mixes vibrant, relaxing tunes with more energetic beats like “BERLIN” and “WHERE THE CASH AT.” It doesn’t seem like it should work, but it does. Each song moves smoothly into the next, blending almost imperceptibly into a new beat, then a new song. “Iridescence” has the same unique standard of the “Saturation” albums, but with a different mix of styles.  

Courtesy of ‘iridescence’ album cover.

Since the beginning, the band has let emotions be loud. “NEW ORLEANS” opens with a characteristically BROCKHAMPTON sound. It also lays out a few new elements the album experiments with, like siren synths, blurred vocals and electric layered noises. Songs like “J’OUVERT” and “DISTRICT” carry the heavy, chaotic sound, integrating more synth notes and high pitched lyrics. In the storm of sounds, the clicking of a camera shutter can be heard on “WHERE THE CASH AT,” surprisingly rhythmic over an undulating beat and Merlyn Wood’s shouted lyricism. The jumble is wild and robotic, a classically BROCKHAMPTON move to present a multifaceted mosaic of ideas.

Underlying many of the intense moments on “Iridescence” are softer, hypnotic songs like “TAPE.” The beats turn to violins or trumpets, and the band addresses some of the discussion surrounding “Iridescence.” The album wasn’t conceived until Ameer Vann was ousted following sexual assault allegations, so “Puppy,” the band’s scheduled project, was thrown out. “WEIGHT,” in particular, lets the band speak about the trials of fame, and the “LOOPHOLE” skit preceding it makes a point about how relationships changes with money. Without Vann, other band members come out of the eclecticism.

In “TONYA” and “SAN MARCOS,” Bearface’s  formerly-rare, heartfelt lyrics and instrumental talent on piano and guitar create a hazy yet raw harmony that otherwise wouldn’t have shone through.

“Iridescence” is an album of many impressions. “NEW ORLEANS” will never be as good for anyone else as it is for Tulane students, “FABRIC” is best listened to at 2 a.m. and “BERLIN” has the jarring nostalgia of classic BROCKHAMPTON. It’s cohesive in the way the group has mastered the ability to swing between musical extremes and showcase its myriad of talents. The group proves that neither structure nor previous sound define its work, and it can handle the blow of a member gone. Coming back stronger and reflective, the first part of “The Best Years of Our Lives” trilogy promises an invigorated, mature BROCKHAMPTON.


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