If you weren’t there for it, you have no idea how much noise was being made for BROCKHAMPTON before the summer of 2018. Out of nowhere with barely any following, an online rap collective who called themselves a boyband - who looked more like a group of friends that you knew from school than a typical boyband - with unapologetically queer and poc members that had a desire to make their community a safespace, dropped three albums - no, three GREAT albums, in the span of *six months*, with songs about mental health, rape culture, escaping a bad lifestyle, and a great amount of fun bangers dropped as well. They built a cult like fanbase seemingly overnight, got a fifty million dollar record deal with RCA, and, if all went well with their intended major label debut “PUPPY”, probably would have become one the biggest artists in the world, being a major win for their fanbase who connected with the outsider nature of the group.
And then, it was all taken away by allegations that Ameer Vann, the literal face of BROCKHAMPTON, was a serial abuser. This lead to their long time friend being kicked out of the group, “PUPPY” being entirely scrapped, most of their tour dates being cancelled, their record deal not being as beneficial as they originally thought, recording sessions that lead to nothing, fans being split by the newest batch of singles, fans that thought the band betrayed Ameer or were worse without him and should have kept him in the group. It was a summer that the band still hasn't fully recovered from, and at the time it felt like it might be the end of BROCKHAMPTON. All of this culminated into their fanbase dividing major label debut, “iridescence”.
Written, recorded, mixed, and mastered in the span of ten days in Abbey Road, “iridescence” is the most experimental and atypical record in BROCKHAMPTON’s catalogue, and it’s absolute chaos. Everything about this record is raw and unfiltered, shifting from moody to cocky to angry to depressed and much more from track to track - hell, even within individual songs. This isn’t so much a therapy session as it is a prolonged scream into a pillow. This extends out into the album’s production - which is also constantly changing, sometimes mid song - with industrial inspired beats, blown out 808’s, distorted vocals on most of the tracks here, synths solos, break beats, mellotrons, heavy use of a string orchestra, choir parts, stadium anthems, sampling Beyoncé and themselves at the same time. Almost none of it sounds like the SATURATION trilogy that got them started, and your enjoyment of the sound of this record has a huge part to do with how open you are to all of their experimenting.
The band dynamics are also atypical on “iridescence” compared to past records. While Dom is rapping in the same style for about the same amount as before, Matt is taking a backseat numerous times on this album, Merlyn is featured more than ever, Kevin barely gives his signature hooks and has a more understated delivery instead of his usual boastfulness, Bearface is on more songs than all of the SATURATION trilogy combined and he’s often rapping more than he is singing, and Joba is basically the MVP of this project, taking a more prominent role than before and switching his delivery from soulful to unfiltered rage on each track. Each track sees the members taking on their issues, whether it be their personal lives or nods to the struggles they’ve been facing after Ameer’s betrayal and the cost that comes with answering to a label. One big thing to note about “iridescence” is how intentionally unsatisfying it is - there is no bow to tie this album up, because things were still up in the air in the real world. The band isn’t done healing, they haven’t overcome their problems over the past summer, there is no big take away message about what happened - it ends as it begins, with raw hurt and pain, begging to be healed.
Even though opinions have grown on it recently, “iridescence” is still a project that has split the BROCKHAMPTON fanbase. However, I can’t help but love it. Being there during their meteoric rise and devastating collapse, I instantly connected with the album’s colorful production and unapologetically raw lyrics and performances. “iridescence” is BROCKHAMPTON going through the thick of trauma, and the result is, in my opinion, their greatest project to date.