Self-styled Los Angeles 'boyband' Brockhampton have had a busier 2017 than most, having released both their debut and sophomore albums this summer, just two months apart. While the original ‘Saturation’ caught people's attention with its energetic experimentation, it was the tighter and more confident second chapter that really established the group as a force to be reckoned with. Given the very short break between these two projects, you might have expected either a 2018 delay for ‘Saturation III’ or potentially a Godfather III-esque dip in quality. Fortunately neither of these possibilities has come to pass, and Brockhampton have released the third and possibly strongest project of the entire trilogy.
Just like its predecessors, ‘Saturation III’ starts with a barrage of intensity, with manic opener 'Boogie' setting the tone. The instrumental on this track calls to mind Pharrell's more experimental N*E*R*D production, with the multitude of horn and sirens providing the perfect canvas for some of the group's most unhinged verses. Immediately following this is ‘Zipper’, which bounces with a sense of euphoria reminiscent of ‘Stankonia’-era OutKast. The sonic experimentation that has come to be expected of the group continues throughout the album, however it's the more interesting lyrical flourishes that elevate ‘Saturation III’ above the previous instalments. Tracks like 'Johnny' and 'Bleach' allow each member to express themselves more candidly, without verging on the over-sentimentality of tracks from the first two records.
As their first album was only released in June, it seems strange to discuss how the group has evolved or matured since their debut effort, but they undeniably have. Although part of the appeal of the original ‘Saturation’ was its youthful exuberance, in places it was unfocused and contained the occasional misstep. Yes, these minor issues were largely rectified by ‘Saturation II’, however ‘Saturation III’ is the most watertight release yet. At just 46 minutes and spanning 15 tracks, the energy never relents and the group has cut down on the overly indulgent moments that bogged down the previous chapters. Closing track 'Team' doesn't quite live up to the melancholic glory of ‘Saturation II's 'Summer', however the triumphant beat change in the last couple of minutes serves as a suitably swaggering victory lap.
With ‘Saturation III’, Brockhampton have completed an unprecedented three-for-three in just over six months. Although many comparisons have been made with their spiritual forefathers Odd Future, that group never lived up to their potential as a musical collective, with OF instead flourishing as solo artists. The alchemy of Brockhampton's music comes from balancing the elements and personalities of each member, and there is no sense that more proficient talents are disguising any dead weight within the group.
Whilst the initial surprise felt on the original ‘Saturation’ may have subsided, the erratic excitement and experimentation on that album has been executed more confidently on each subsequent chapter. The LA group are everything progressive rap music should be; forward thinking, energetic and perhaps most importantly, exciting.
Words: Will Rosebury
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