The Lowdown: Last year, BROCKHAMPTON released a trilogy of albums all called Saturation. Each record in the series improved on the one before it, and together they won the 13-man band a new legion of fans and a $15 million record deal with RCA. Iridescence is their major label debut, and it doesn’t disappoint. The album (and really the whole musical collective) is led by Kevin Abstract.
But the self-proclaimed, “Best boy band since One Direction,” features six strong vocalists, including the charismatic oddball Merlyn Wood, the explosive Joba, flow masters Matt Champion and Dom McLellan, and the indie rock sensibilities of Bearface. All of them rap and most of them sing. Some stunt, some goof around, some tell personal stories. Iridescence is a study in contrasts; a rap variety pack.
The Good: The album opens with “New Orleans”, a foot-stomping banger. The six primary vocalists all find a different pocket in the beat. It’s the contrast that works so well, and throughout the album BROCKHAMPTON are willing to manipulate their voices to be high enough, low enough, or distorted enough to provide listeners with a fresh sound.
Kevin Abstract spits Iridescence’s most emotionally vulnerable verse on “Weight”. He raps about times he’s felt inadequate, such as when his bandmate was struggling with mental health issues, or the shame he experienced with his adolescent girlfriend before he knew he was gay.
“Honey” samples Beyoncé and showcases the production side of BROCKHAMPTON (including Romil Hemnani and Q3) at their most ambitious. Bearface takes the lead on “San Marcos”, a lovely folk-pop ode to the band’s beginnings in San Marcos, Texas. Throughout, Iridescence is an excessive and exuberant listen.
The Bad: Did you know that in the Star Wars Holiday Special (1978), Chewbacca’s father, a wookie named Itchy, watches a softcore pornographic musical in Chewbacca’s living room? That’s pretty bad! There’s nothing really bad about Iridescence, though. Sometimes all that exuberance feels a little unfocused, but it’s only a little, and who cares when you’re having this much fun?
The Verdict: BROCKHAMPTON has made a statement for the Streaming Age, the ADHD Age; because who needs radio or playlists when you have an album that leaps from partying to personal stories, from quiet romance to cuban links? Iridescence is full-to-bursting; it’s like almost eating too much food, almost drinking too much booze; it’s getting close to too much, and still asking for more.
Essential Tracks: “New Orleans”, “Weight”, “Honey”, and “San Marcos”