THE END OF THE BROCKHAMPTON STORY PART 2
PART 1: https://www.albumoftheyear.org/user/baddiebaphomet/album/494508-the-family/#show219030
Well. Okay. Here we are again.
Yeah, I guess I’m doing a two part review today. Well, two reviews, but a part of the same piece. But yeah, here were are: Part 2 of THE END OF THE BROCKHAMPTON STORY. Feel free to read my review of “THE FAMILY” to catch up on the story so far, but to summarize: after the band’s quick success to stardom followed by a downfall that came just as quick, the band broke up with a promise of one more final album. That final album came in the form of “THE FAMILY”, which acted more a solo Kevin joint where he reflected on the history of the band, how they fell apart, and his complex feelings about the situation before ultimately finding closure and ending the BROCKHAMPTON story.
Which makes this review of the latest BROCKHAMPTON album a little weird.
Surprisingly, on the morning of the release of “THE FAMILY”, which has been consistently advertised as the final BROCKHAMPTON album, we got the announcement of one more project being released the next day. Like I said in my review of “THE FAMILY”, I should have expected the unexpected with these guys, but they really set my expectations for finality based on how the group talked about their situation over the past year. I had no idea what the group had planned for this album, I didn’t even know this record existed until sixteen hours before its official release. But there’s no time to get ready - the last BROCKHAMPTON album (probably) is already here. With that, what did we get with “T M”?
Well, I’ll say this. I think most of the hype surrounding these two releases will go to “T M”. Obviously there’s the fact that it's a surprise release, but also because a) this project actually features the other members of BROCKHAMPTON, on vocals and on production, and b) this one is more fun and filled with bangers. However, I do think “T M” is the weaker of the two projects. But I do want to emphasize I still think this is an enjoyable listen that serves as a satisfying end to BROCKHAMPTON.
Executive produced by group vocalist Matt Champion, “T M” doesn’t feel like a fully fleshed out album with a set aesthetic, concept, or cohesion. The boys have described the album as a parting gift for the fans and stated that the record is "an album made up of songs that were started by the group during a two-week stint in Ojai, California in 2021, but were never fully completed during those sessions”. Obviously, considering that these are edited versions of what are essentially b-sides, these songs feel more like a compilation than a fully realized album. There’s not really a set sound - some of these are more experimental tracks in the vein of “iridescence”, others feel more like pop rap cuts that could have been found on “GINGER”, there are some bangers that could have been seen on “SATURATION”, “ROADRUNNER”, or “TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES” - and there’s not a lyrical throughline like we’ve been seeing over the past handful of projects. This feels like the most “music for music’s sake” for the first time in a while. Some may be disappointed with that fact, but I think this makes the most sense for where the band is at.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s briefly dive into the music. I do think the tracklist is a bit of a mixed bag, but it’s a good mixed bag. “FMG” is one of their hardest bangers in years with a spacey, experimental beat in the vein of “iridescence”. “ANIMAL” would have fit right alongside the tracklisting for “GINGER” with its pop rap production and catchy chorus as well as a smooth bridge from fan favorite collaborator Ryan Beatty. “LISTERINE '' is a psychedelic cloud rap trap that wouldn’t be out of place on a Travis Scott album while “NEW SHOES '' sounds like a diy trap song that’s reminiscent of their SATURATION days. The next two tracks are leftovers from their “TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES” series, with Kevin and Merlyn leading the Outkast inspired banger “SOUTHERN” while “MAN ON THE MOON” is one of the brightest dance tracks BROCKHAMPTON has ever made with its colorful synths and uptempo drums - this pair of songs is easily an album highlight. “BETTER THINGS” has a nice tune, but ultimately feels underdeveloped with its minimalist production and short verses, while the r&b track “CRUCIFY ME” feels one note with a weaker song structure despite the gorgeous instrumental and beautiful vocal performance from Joba. Some of the alt-rock influence that was present on the “ROADRUNNER” track ‘WHAT’S THE OCCASION?” reappears on “DUCT TAPE”, and while the song structure isn’t the strongest I can’t deny how much I enjoy the song’s vibe. “ALWAYS SOMETHING” is another pop rap track in the vein of “GINGER”, but I think they’ve done this sound much better on past records. And finally, “GOODBYE” is a lowkey synthpop track that acts as the band’s send off, not ending with every member reuniting and saying a big speech, just a “that’s it, until next time”.
And…that’s it. That’s “T M”. There’s no grand goodbye message, there’s no big statement about the band, it doesn’t go out with a bang, it’s a collection of songs and a “see you later”. And I think that’s kinda the point.
“T M” doesn’t feel like the end of the BROCKHAMPTON story - I’d still give that title to “THE FAMILY”. I mean, for one, the fact that “THE FAMILY” was advertised as the final album while “T M” was advertised as a parting gift for the fans probably clues us into the band’s intentions. But I also think the project being a “music for music’s sake” compilation was meant to display that the guys were still on good terms, they still loved each other a lot, and meant to function as a “where are now” footnote. “T M” isn’t the ending, it’s the epilogue of BROCKHAMPTON, the tying up of loose ends. It also serves as a goodbye to the fans, hopefully making the group’s breaking easier by giving them some new songs to enjoy. This likely will make the project feel unappealing to casual listeners, and I think that’s their intention. This is one last batch of tunes from the boys before they go their separate ways. And while I walked into both of these past two albums wanting something more triumphant and conclusive, I think the approach they gave to these projects was a lot more honest and real, and I think that makes it the right ending for the boyband.
BROCKHAMPTON debuted their first album while I was still in school and just started listening to new music on a regular basis. These guys got me through some tough times over the years and helped me feel not so alone when I felt like I was struggling by myself. I wouldn’t have started beats if it weren’t for these guys. Now I’m an adult, living as a woman, in a different state, with a new group of friends, I don’t see my childhood best friends as much as I used to, other friends I was close to I haven’t talked to in years, no longer talking to my dad, and have become serious about writing my own music as well as writing about music. I’m in a very different place than when I was when “SATURATION” dropped. I’m sure many of their fans are too. And I’m fairly certain this is where the band is at. I’m sure fans wanted an “Avengers: Endgame”-esque ending, but like I said, these last two albums feel like the right way to tie things up. “THE FAMILY” was an ending reflecting on what BROCKHAMPTON was and finding closure in its end, while “T M” is the epilogue where they meet up at their favorite spot for old time's sake. That just warms my estrogen fueled heart. And with that, for real this time, we close the last chapter of the BROCKHAMPTON story (probably) - goodbye boys, I’m dying over you.
Thank you for reading up to this point, especially if you read part one! Two quick updates: a) there might be few long form reviews posted throughout the year, it’ll depend on my schedule. I’ll still post some NO NUANCE REVIEWS this upcoming month, but these past two BROCKHAMPTON reviews will either be the last long form reviews I review the year or two of the last of the year. But that’s because b) I’ll be dedicating my time working on the year end Best and Worst Albums of 2022 list! I’m always excited to work on these lists, they’re the big project that everything I do is leading towards all year. This will be an interesting year, I’m not sure what will make the list and what will land where - there’s a big chance something I haven’t talked yet about might appear on either list.They will both be out on December 16th, so if you’re interested at all mark your calendars! Or I’ll leave a reminder the day of lol. Anyway, just wanted to make y’all aware. I’ll post new content when I post it. Hope to see y’all at my year end lists!