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Album Review: Brockhampton ‘Iridescence’

An album divided into two distinct halves, the band explores new sonic territory and tackles emotional topics.

Iridescence is the fourth studio album from the rap-boyband band Brockhampton, and it’s the group’s first full release since last year’s explosive Saturation trilogy. The record dropped in the wake of former band member Ameer Vann’s dismissal from the group, and boasts a new sound.

Iridescence explores how the band grapples with life after the fame and monstrous success following their previous releases. The songs acknowledge the simpler times before fame, both good and bad, and unpacks the craziness that followed the group’s progress in the music industry. The album starts with an aggressive edge, and ends on a more somber note, closing the album out with an emotional open letter to fans that feels like a confession.

The beginning of the album boasts an is edgy and harsh. Standout tracks include “New Orleans,” featuring honorary band member Jaden Smith, and “District,” which balances Joba’s signature screaming and Bearface’s silk-smooth vocals.

The first half of the album finds the group bragging about their newfound success, success they found despite the lack of support from their peers and families in their teenage years. Unfortunately, “Something About Him,” missed the mark in this half of the album.  Auto-tuning and voice modulation are key components to some of Brockhampton’s top tracks. However, the group may have taken it too far on “Something About Him.” Luckily the mishaps of this track are eclipsed by the rest of the tracks on Iridescence.

The second half of the album — emerging after the interlude “Loophole,” — marks the beginning of the band’s emotional journey. the first mentions of regret creep in during “Loophole” when rapper Cam’ron discuses his teenage dream of fame — despite his lack of knowledge in the business side of the music industry.

Brockhampton also begins to reflect on their achievements, and deal with serious subjects like depression and loneliness in the second half of Iridescence. In “San Marcos,” a beautiful choir can be heard on the bridge singing the lyrics “I want more out of life than this,” as the members rap about the their new place in the world and the lack of authenticity in fame.

This half of the album contains one of the rawest songs on the record, “Tape.” The track takes listeners through the Harlem Renaissance carrying the melody with a saxophone and piano. Each member details their struggles without auto-tune or voice modulation.

With 15 songs clocking in at nearly 49 minutes, Brockhampton delivers a solid album with a more dynamic sound than fans heard before. The band uses video game beats on “Berlin” and “J’ouvert” to conjure a classic Space Invaders vibe. On “Where the Cash At” and “Vivid,” they bring up memories of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter for listeners.

This album takes the group in a different direction that die-hard fans may not instantly love. However, the stark difference between the mellow, subdued sound of Iridescence and the explosive energy of Brockhampton’s previous work shouldn’t discredit the solid composition of this album.

Of the two parts, the second half the album is more memorable, as the group connects to listeners with more emotional tracks that catalog what the members are going through. The last three songs of the record become increasingly vulnerable and moving.

The album leaves listeners anxious to hear where Brockhampton will go next. It would be exciting to hear band will use the same format as their beloved Saturation trilogy, continuing the narrative of Iridescence‘s new sound for at least two more projects.

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