By Bo Nicholson - Managing Editor Pop Culture
New Release Music
Release Date: 21 September, 2018
Genre: Hip Hop
Label: Question Everything/ RCA Records
Listen on Spotify
Following on from an excellent 2017 for Hip-Hop group BROCKHAMPTON, on the back of their ‘SATURATION’ trilogy of albums, 2018 promised to be a huge year for the boys from Texas. They promised the release of albums TEAM EFFORT and PUPPY, on the back of signing a multi-million dollar deal with RCA Records and touring the world. Their star was on the rise.
But 2018 brought with it some challenges. Their intended albums were postponed and eventually abandoned after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against vocalist Ameer Vann. The band made the decision to drop Vann in late May, regretting that they had been lied to and that they hadn’t spoken out sooner.
Which brings us to iridescence; a curious name in a lot of ways. Iridescence is when an object appears to be different colours depending on the viewpoint of the observer or how light reflects on the object. They have also dropped the ‘ALL CAPS’ approach to the album title that existed for their previous 3 albums. The absence of Vann, arguably their most gifted vocalist, has clearly shifted the way BROCKHAMPTON want to be seen.
But the truth is that for all of this talk of changing the usual way of operating, iridescence has all of the hallmarks of BROCKHAMPTON that their fans have come to enjoy, starting with the blitzkrieg of ‘NEW ORLEANS’ to set the scene, it’s a wall of sound that gets a party started but begins to outstay its welcome as it nears its conclusion, with a ‘blink and you miss it’ contribution from Jaden Smith. It transitions seamlessly into the next song, ‘THUG LIFE’, which subverts your expectations based on the song title alone to deliver a silky piano line and sweet vocals from the London Community Gospel Choir. It’s sentimental, but never pretentious. Then we’re back into a more bombastic sound with ‘BERLIN’. Sensing a pattern?
The truth is that there are some great moments in this album that either outstay their welcome because of the need to have so many MC’s on the track, or that get lost in the somewhat inconsistent tone of the album. At times it is really aggressive, like on ‘J’OUBERT’, where Joba says “f*ck what you think and f*ck what you’ve heard, I feel betrayed, you can keep the praise, and all of the f*ck shit, need to get away” atop a sample of a Granadian Soca song. The band’s anger is temporary, as only two tracks later, on ‘SAN MARCOS’, they turn introspective, with Joba this time talking about his vulnerabilities; “Suicidal thoughts, but I won’t do it. Take that how you want, it’s important, I admit it. I’m afraid of commitment, don’t know how to fix it.”
With the sincerity and honesty of the MC’s, bonded to the Choir repeating “I want more out of life than this” as the orchestra at Abbey Road studios swells and a piano gently enters the fray; ‘SAN MARCOS’ is exactly what iridescence required to elevate it above the average rap album. Almost every other song is doused in potential only to be unfulfilled because of an errant verse or production that doesn’t evolve the song at the pivotal time.
It’s a good album and an interesting step for BROCKHAMPTON post-Vann; they’ve retained most of their relatability despite their success but they haven’t quite perfected the art of restraint; an essential component when making a truly great album.
Had a chance to listen to iridescence by BROCKHAMPTON yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!