Serving as the first installment in the self-proclaimed "world's greatest boyband's" second album trilogy, The Best Years of Our Lives, iridescence is a deeply personal, synth and orchestrally driven self-examination of sorts. Leaving no stone unturned, Brockhampton doesn't lose stride in their fascinating rise to musical fame.
Brockhampton has had a difficult past year.
Following the release of Saturation III, the third and final installment in the boyband's debut Saturation trilogy, sexual assault allegations led to the removal of rapper and album cover-man Ameer Van, leaving many questions about the groups future unanswered.
Where would Brockhampton go from here?
In the months following Ameer's departure, the group released a series of singles titled "1997 Diana", "1998 Truman" and "1999 Wildfire". All equally enticing in their own right, it was clear Brockhampton still held the same fire and power without a key piece to the puzzle.
The group's definitive, page turning moment, however, came in the form of a performance on The Tonight Show. Uniformly dressed in plaid flannels, sitting in a circle, the group performed "Tonya", a track off of their upcoming album, iridescence. This coup-de-grace moment showed the world that for better or worse, Brockhampton was turning a new leaf in their timeline, whether we liked it or not.
Despite the numerous singles and live performances leading up to the release of iridescence, nothing could have prepared the world for what was to come on their newest album.
In bold and risky fashion, iridescence takes every sound and message Brockhampton has procured in their discography and turns it up to ten.
The heavy, bass-driven production on previous records like "HEAT", "JUNKY", "SWAMP" and "TOKYO" is featured on nearly every track, with "J'OUVRE" serving as the embodiment of this sound.
The smooth, seamless flow from Don McLennon and the heavy, emphasized lyricism of Merlyn Wood are highlighted on every single song, allowing two artists who were previous seen as role players to shine in their own right.
The groups resident vocalist, Bearface, is featured on a plethora of tracks, which is a vast improvement from his brief involvement on previous albums. Bearface shines on "Tonya", providing hypnotizing vocals on a memorable intro verse.
The groups most versatile member, Joba, is a star on iridescence. On "Berlin", Joba spits a catchy verse that were used to seeing him deliver, but his involvement on the album comes in a collection of forms. Joba's standout verse is on "J'OUVERT". Screaming into the microphone, calling onto previously uninterested ears, Joba demands attention on this track, giving listeners one of Brockhampton's greatest verses of all time.
And then there was one.
Kevin Abstract is a poet. Kevin Abstract is a commander. Kevin Abstract is a visionary. Kevin Abstract is a superstar.
The groups de-facto frontman, Kevin Abstract delivers one of the greatest solo performances of any artist this year on this project. On iridescence, Kevin rips his heart out and slams it onto the table, sucking listeners into the vulnerable and honest mind of a artist that, above all else, demands attention. Kevin Abstract is known by fans as helmet boy, but on iridescence, the helmet is gone, and on top of Kevin's head sits a crown of thorns. He's not asking for your approval or sympathy, just your ears and an open mind.
Kevin's zenith comes on "WEIGHT". On this track, Kevin delivers the best verse of his career, rivaled by only "JUNKY". Kevin raps:
And she was mad cause I never wanna show her off (scared)
And every time she took her bra off my dick would get soft
I thought I had a problem, kept my head inside a pillow screaming;
I don't wanna waste no more time
I'm ready to go
I live my life on standby
I can leave you alone
On this verse, Kevin opens a door into his troubles as an adolescent, fearlessly given the world an insight of what it's like coming to terms with who you are as a person. Throughout iridescence, Kevin Abstract proves to be twice the artist we know him to be, and evolution and realization with music to this degree truly is a beautiful thing.
In my eyes, the albums standout track is "Tonya". One of the only tracks on the album to feature every member of the group, each and every artist in Brockhampton conducts a powerful self-reflection of themselves. In its simplest form, "Tonya" is a therapy session, as one after the other, each group member shares obstacles and hardships in their life. Accompanying each verse is an incredibly smooth instrumental, incorporating elements of percussion, piano, synths, beautiful vocals from feature artists Ryan Beatty and serpentwithfeet.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines iridescence as: a lustrous rainbow-like play of color caused by differential refraction of light waves that tends to change as the angle of view changes.
You can take this definition anyway you want, but in my eyes, the word perfectly exemplifies where Brockhampton sits today. Every single member is their own beam of light, differing in race, sexuality or background, but together, they create a beautiful, radiating rainbow of talent and uniqueness.
Brockhampton, much like the definition of iridescence itself, is a rainbow of talented human beings. Traveling at the speed of light, the light beam that is Brockhampton will continue to shine through the dark clouds of adversity and doubt, painting the sky that is the music world with new and brilliant ideas, sounds and messages.
In the wake of a massive change in the groups foundation, Brockhampton never broke stride, delivering one of the best rap albums of the year, blasting through the naysayers and critics with the shining light that is iridescence.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
It's only getting brighter.
- Carter Ferryman -