Iridescence- Album Review
(By: Thomas Rodriguez)
The best boyband since One Direction makes their major label debut.
How can a table stand if one of its legs is removed?
That’s the question that internet-famed boyband Brockhampton is hankering to answer with their latest album, Iridescence. After having risen to a critical and commercial peak last year with the release of their Saturation trilogy of albums, the multi-manned collective underwent a dramatic lineup change in the loss of core member Ameer Vann due to rumored sexual misconduct on his end. Sure, while the group still has most of its members under its bigass belt and seems to function well as a whole, their newfound popularity, loss of Vann, and record deal are putting a lot of pressure on how the group’s output will be received. Iridescence is easily one of the most buzzed about albums of the year, and while it takes a few confident steps toward the future of the Texas boyband, it takes a few clumsy ones as well.
One of the most interesting things about the Brockhampton outfit is their group dynamic; the fact that their diverse cast (from straightforward rappers like Dom to madmen like Merlyn) can meld together so well on tracks is an incredible feat. Iridescence tries to continue that trend, but it falters occasionally in that execution. On the many uneven cuts, there will be a standout performance from one or two members, but the rest of the group somewhat fades into the background of the track, like on the track “Weight” (Kevin Abstract’s verse here is one of his best ever, but aside from a good verse from Joba, none of the members really cement themselves as anything more than okay).
It is a blessing, however, to see the group expand it’s horizons beyond its most well known members: some of the best tracks on the album are run by lesser known members Joba and Merlyn on standouts like “New Orleans” or “Where the Cash At”. Bearface, the R&B crooner of the group, actually performs quite nicely on emotional tracks like “Tonya” and “San Marcos”, confirming that the outfit is trying to spread its mic time to more members (even if its at the expense of Matt Champion, who’s barely on this record at all). However, even with a lot of great standout performances, the group dynamic that made the boyband so fascinating is less smooth, more clunky; it’s apparent that they’re a huge posse now, not a single entity.
Despite my issues with the group dynamic being weaker than before, Iridescence should still have a chance in terms of its actual song making. Lyrically, the group is still solid (despite many members’ lack of consistency), but in terms of memorability or punch on the listener, the songs don’t work as well. Brockhampton aimed for a more experimental approach on Iridescence, but the songwriting suffers from it more than I’d like it to. The hooks on the album are all over the place: in places they’re great (i.e on the bass rattling “Berlin”), other times they’re completely forgettable or grating like on “Vivid” and “Fabric”. Earlier Brockhampton hooks stuck to your ears and clung to them for weeks, here they kind of go one ear in and out the other.
The instrumentals are very much the same as the hooks in how scatterbrained they are. Sometimes, they work amazingly as hard hitting, experimental pop rap with the groovy “Honey” and head banging “New Orleans”, other time they’re just loud for the sake of being loud or kind of mediocre (“Something About Him” bored me to tears and “District” was just annoying). It’s a shame too, because with just a little more tweaking and improvements, these songs could have been crafted into some of the best Brockhampton material ever. Sadly, they only stand as good ideas, not quality tracks.
Listening to Iridescence is very much like walking up a mountain and into a valley. You’re going to hit a lot of highs, and a lot of lows in the tracklist here. At many times, Iridescence is a little sloppy, but it still gets the job done overall. The group has proved, at least for now, it can function without one of its founding members, which is honestly all a fan can ask for. Hopefully the outfit takes the good ideas that were present here, and expands them into something truly great in the future…
For now though, Iridescence is just decent.
Tracks to Save: “New Orleans”, “Berlin”, “Where the Cash At”, “Tape”, “Honey”, “Tonya”
Tracks to Skip: “Something About Him”, “District”, “Vivid”, “Fabric”
Listen to Iridescence here!
What did you think about this album? Any comments or criticism? Comment down below and let me know; I’d love to hear what you think!
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