BROCKHAMPTON have always been a group on the cutting edge, but with their latest album iridescence, their sound has become even more exploratory. Even the name of the album echoes the wide array of worldviews present in the group; as varied as the color spectrum itself. Their multi-angled approach to song structure isn’t just lyrical, but musical as well. As vocals shift, so does the beat and melody accompanying them, allowing for an unprecedented quality that both alienates and intrigues the listener.
On the one hand, the listener can’t interact with the music by memorizing the lyrics and flow of the song; the overall experience of the album is better described as bombardment, a relentless exploration of a multitude of ideas.
There is almost nothing to compare iridescence with, except maybe To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar. While that is quite a comparison to make, both albums are an experience that few would dare tarnish by playing it at a club as mere background music or as white noise to fill a void of silence. This is an album that once it starts, it is hard to pull yourself away from as the listener follows it’s twists and turns.
As the energy levels slow, the subject matter veers into darker territory. ‘LOOPHOLE’ discusses the sheer cluelessness and naivety of many artists when they first enter the music industry. Conversely, as the energy picks up, so do the lyrics; on the track ‘BERLIN’, the group discusses their love for the city of Berlin. While that song to song shift is by no means unprecedented territory in rap, the band will do that same thing within the same song as many as four times. The best example of this in their latest work is the song ‘WEIGHT’ in which each member of the group discusses the emotional weight they’re dealing with and the music changes with each new storyline.
Overall, I cannot heap enough praise on BROCKHAMPTON’s constant desire to push the envelope and challenge themselves to find new avenues of artistic expression. Few musicians can make an album that sounds almost nothing like their last one, but even fewer seem to be capable of agreeing to change their sound in a way that may or may not suit their styles.
By Sean Armstrong – Music Writer