The past 18 months have been testing times for BROCKHAMPTON fans. With the band taking time out rumours of a permanent hiatus circulated, with Kevin Abstract seemingly happy to focus on solo material. 2020 brought a slew of ad hoc singles, but the releases had the feel of an athlete stretching their legs, wondering what – if anything – was still possible.
With the pandemic finally withdrawing, BROCKHAMPTON have delivered a chink of light. The group’s new album emphasises their ensemble qualities, moving from trap to caramel soft R&B via classic hip-hop references, all while delivering their arch-futurist energy. It’s a blast, but also subtle, incorporating Millennial pop and gospel in equal measure.
Renewing themselves by tapping into the classic, ‘ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE’ was launched with the electrifying, madcap rap of the Danny Brown enhanced ‘BUZZCUT’. Ruthless and unruly, it had an incredible punk edge, one that presages the creativity to follow.
JPEGMAFIA illuminates the rap bubbler ‘CHAIN ON ME’, a club smash that swaggers with lawless charm. A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg spray on ‘Bank Roll’, a key moment on the album that ends with a sly nod to Wu-Tang Clan’s immortal ‘C.R.E.A.M.’
Yet it’s not all bravado. The gospel soaked ‘DEAR LORD’ is pinned down by those yearning harmonies, while ‘I’LL TAKE YOU ON’ is a super smooth R&B burner with a Charlie Wilson feature which then disappears into bubbling acapella ambience.
A record lit up by key guest performances, ‘ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE’ is expertly curated. As ever with BROCKHAMPTON, there’s a punch to the tracklisting – in an era of 23 track deluxe editions they roll with a sharp 13 – unlucky for some, but lucky for time-pressed fans.
Framed by ‘THE LIGHT’, the record is cohesive, punchy, and succinct. A force renewed, BROCKHAMPTON’s return comes just as the darkness that has surrounded our lives for 18 months begins to dissipate. ‘ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE’ finds BROCKHAMPTON racing into the distance, far out-stripping their peers.
Words: Robin Murray
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