Review Summary: The light is worth the wait
Brockhampton are finally unburdened by the image issues that have orbited them since the moment they signed to RCA. The ensuing drama felt like it was so ingrained into who they were that it took them two albums to properly get it out of their system. While I'm far kinder to the post-Saturation BH era than most, I must admit that I wanted a taste of what this band had to offer back when things were a bit sunnier for them, able to pursue their endeavors on a more artistic level with the freedom they've longed for since iridescence.
Roadrunner has ostensibly proved that they've had this in them all along. That the energy, youth, and exuberance that made them so refreshing when SAT 1 dropped was no flash in the pan. This is the most polished, full-sounding record from the band yet, and its embrace of trap sounds is a left turn to be sure, but a welcome one at that. The deliveries of the verses are hungry, fiery, and full of life and aggression that feels infectious. Even the features feel as if the band is embracing a more collective idea of what a Brockhampton album even 'is' in the first place, and while it takes a bit to adjust to their eclectic approach here, it yields rewards that feel astronomically valuable. The structure is tight as a drum, no extraneous short tracks or skits, every song is fully-formed and dense, and god damn does this record just KNOCK. Upon first listen I was taken aback at how bouncy it was, easily the most fun I've had since SAT 2 in that respect, but upon further listening, it becomes apparent that beneath the wild but still-glossy sheen of New Light, New Machine lies something a bit darker than the title may imply.
In many ways, this is Kevin and Joba's album, as nearly every verse they drop is basically 24-carat gold, but also in the respect that the verses from their bandmates seem to be ABOUT them, as if they're communicating through song. It may seem like a weird thing to point out, but if you remember, the last two albums were basically a revolving door of each member unloading their personal struggles in a deeply cathartic and intensely intimate way. NO HALO epitomizes this by having each of the boys just sort of have their own secluded little moments where they dominate the space they're given. Here it's a bit different. Now that they've broken, healed, and come together, we see them lift each other up and support one another through several notable struggles: the pandemic, isolation, insecurity, loss, things they have indeed covered before. But it's more blanketly direct. Songs like DEAR LORD showcase certain members specifically singing to and about one another, primarily Kevin and Joba, emphasizing the topics of the tragic passing of Joba's father and the death of Kevin's cousin. They've learned enough to be able to lift each other up, and have acquired enough musical experience to showcase a definitive rebirth on here.
The real show-stopping moments are indeed the parts where the members take time to be direct to one another, but nowhere is it better displayed than THE LIGHT and THE LIGHT PT. 2- showing off some of the most adventurous production they've experimented with that somehow balances out the raw intensity of Kevin and Joba blanketly speaking on their grief. TONYA felt like a watershed moment for the group, and this builds off of that song in fantastic ways. In many respects, this feels like a sequel to iridescence, where that album left off on uncertainty and raw catharsis, this one gives closure because of the evolution they've undergone. This is my long-winded way of saying that I haven't been this choked up by a song in years as I have with this album's closer, which features Joba speaking to and attempting to reconcile with his departed father, speaking in alternating frankness and poeticism in ways he's always hinted at, becoming the true MVP of the band. The way he keeps collected as he talks about telling his future children how amazing their grandfather was, or speaking on how his feelings for his father are still messy, complicated, and unresolved, is nothing short of emotional euphoria.
Brockhampton have reached their final form, sonically and emotionally, and I can only say that I'm immensely grateful to have been along for the ride.