The rise of California-based rap group Brockhampton has been both incredible and tumultuous. Considering their debut album 'Saturation' was released only 15 months ago, the story of the self-described 'boyband' is as eventful as some careers that have been going a decade or more.
Their fourth album 'Iridescence' finds them at a tipping point, on the verge of becoming a bonafide mainstream sensation, with early reports suggesting this project could top the US Billboard chart. However the seemingly unstoppable rise of Brockhampton hasn't been as smooth as this might suggest, primarily due to the acrimonious departure of rapper Ameer Vann and also the creative uncertainty in the build up to this project - having being announced four times with four different names and not containing any of the pre-album singles.
The good news is that the Brockhampton magic is still present on 'Iridescence', the bad is that this project feels less of an evolution than the Saturation trilogy. That isn't to say that the project isn't sonically interesting, the group are still light years ahead of their contemporaries in terms of musical experimentation. But whereas the the previous albums took new directions with each project - 'Iridescence' doubles down on the strongest elements of their original trilogy.
This is clear even from the opener 'NEW ORLEANS' as it follows the usual formula of opening each project with an energetically manic banger. The track itself is excellent, however, the album initially feels disjointed as the tone switches between the intensity of tracks like the opener and the more melancholic 'THUG LIFE' and 'SOMETHING ABOUT HIM'. Again, taken individually, these tracks are great but collectively the first half of the album lacks the cohesion of the latter two Saturation albums.
Fortunately, by the time it gets to 'TAPE', Brockhampton finally hit their stride and 'Iridescence' begins to feel like a more confident project. Joba's emotively deranged verse on 'J'OUVERT' is a particular highlight, calling to mind Eminem at peak disturbing on 'Kim', whilst 'FABRIC' is an evolving and effective closer.
'Iridescence' finds Brockhampton on the brink of real stardom, and therefore it is no surprise that the group have delivered a project that feels as much an introduction to new fans, as a continuation for existing ones. Above all, 'Iridescence' feels like Brockhampton have regrouped musically to create a great, if not perfect, representation and platform to build on.
Words: Will Rosebury
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