Review Summary: fin.You’re still here?
Looking back on BROCKHAMPTON’s year, it’s not so ridiculous to say that the position we find ourselves in now has been writ ever since hype began to brew in early June. In the months that passed, the group seemed to present their weaknesses as strengths and their strengths as unprecedented. Lyrics that could be considered asinine (“I was sad ‘cause nobody wanna suck my willy”) are instead playful; the chemistry oft praised is discussed by fans like it’s never happened this way before. To an extent, I don’t disagree with either of these points -- if I laugh at a dumb lyric, has it not provided me with some form of entertainment? And can I deny that the alchemy between members is a reason for the band accruing millions of fans in half a year?
Now we’re here, at III
, and the only thing preventing this hit-machine from growing stale is the ability to learn from its mistakes. I expressed my reservations in the SAT II review: if BROCKHAMPTON furthered the formula, that being, if they continued to undermine their own momentum with a home stretch of generic RnB songs carried by maj7 chords, they’d border on rote, deja vu evocations overwhelming whatever talent may be on display. So I audibly sighed when TEAM
began with Kevin crooning over the same kind of chord progression. But they plant their tongues firmly inside their cheeks: half-way through, the crooning cuts short and the verse reaffirms itself as a mainstay; the funk bass scoffs at what its replaced; Ameer reappears as pissed off as ever; Matt as nonchalant, and we’re left on a low-key ending.
I was glad to hear that subversive side, because from the day I jammed HEAT
for the first time, I’ve considered BROCKHAMPTON to be about momentum -- regarding the music itself and the way they carve their own path through pop culture. Indeed, III
relishes in its purpose as the final push – it’s a skittish record marked by nervous high hats, all-encompassing bass and an undeniable bombast. Even the samples galvanise; there’s a police siren running through ZIPPER
and vocals are characteristically manipulated into textures that make you go: “ok what is this I want more of it cheers”. There are moments on this album that lead me to believe that the members of BROCKHAMPTON would be the first to make ‘over-saturation’ jokes, being self-aware to the point of humour. ”I love my niggas like white people like rap”
is the kind of line that seems to be addressed directly at certain denizens of this site. Kevin delivers it in ALASKA
, which comes to us in the middle of the tracklist. It, alongside HOTTIE
, comprises a middle section that’s surprisingly minimalist without sacrificing any intensity -- an antidote that makes you as dizzy as whatever it’s trying to combat.
The creativity and diversity is worthy of commendation, but the lyrics -- uninspired by immediate comparison -- show BROCKHAMPTON exhausted, treading over the footprints they left on the sand months ago. STAINS
addresses the problem (”ya’ll motherfuckers made three albums / still talking about the same shit”
), but refuses to own up to it, acknowledging the criticism with a petulant sneer and not a moment of consideration. I’ve heard Ameer pissed off before, I’m pretty sure iterations of the “voices in my head” concept have cropped up in at least four SATURATION-era cuts (counting MILK
off the top), and I sure as shit can infer a drastic upheaval of these guys’ lifestyles without them spelling it out for me every second track. It’d matter less if the boy band weren’t on a crusade -- they’d speak on these themes from refreshing perspectives if they just let the dust settle, but with III
I guess we see clearly the sacrifices made for prolificity. If nothing else, it makes for an interesting case study.
But I still agree with our favourite staffer, Rowan; as he so eloquently puts it: “ye they get on my nerves but fuck it the music bangs”. Because it definitely does, and they manage to employ different techniques to make it so with every album. II
felt like a collection of sticky hooks, but here, they favour the switch-up, showing two sides to every coin. SISTER/NATION
recalls Lorde’s Hard Feelings/Loveless
of all things, juxtaposing present successes with past struggles, and BLEACH
has its movements bridged by a palm-muted guitar riff and Joba’s silky falsetto. So they still have it; new ideas are proportionate to the amount of group members, and through it all, we’re still here. Boredom should have struck halfway through the last record, but I found myself hanging onto Kevin Abstract’s twitter updates like I was a groupie and BROCKHAMPTON hadn’t released a record in years. But lo, while they may be overzealous and inconsistent and pandering, there’s a certain gratitude reserved for the fact that these people, these dynamics, this electricity, all ended up in the same place at the same time: a trashed and cluttered share-house in California.
It’s over. Go home. Go!