Brockhampton’s iridescence will be scrutinized, dissected and debated. It’s what happens when you have fans that pore over every line and sonic decision, and the “boyband” has been worth pouring time into since they burst onto the scene last year. Their fourth album, which came out on Friday, is their “fame album,” the one that directly addresses their meteoric rise. Iridescence is their first project on RCA Records after receiving $15 million from the label earlier this year. It also arrives four months after they kicked out a founding member of the group, Ameer Vann, in the wake of multiple abuse allegations. Throw in their quickly accumulated commercial and critical success, and the album formerly known as Puppy, Team Effort and The Best Years of Our Lives comes with incredibly high stakes.
At 15 tracks and 48 minutes, iridescence is an electric examination of Brockhampton’s past and present. “WEIGHT,” its fifth song, is the album’s early peak. Over somber strings, Kevin Abstract — the group’s de facto leader — delivers a poignant and vulnerable verse. It’s something of a habit for him; on songs like Saturation II’s “JUNKY,” he delivered intensely personal, star-stealing turns (“‘Why you always rap about being gay?’ / Cause not enough niggas rap and be gay” is that verse’s defiant high point). “WEIGHT,” though, is a little darker, a little sadder.
Abstract kicks the verse off with, “They split my world into pieces, I ain’t heard from my nieces / I’ve been feeling defeated, like I’m the worst in the boyband.” Abstract has been open on social media and in interviews about the turmoil the group has faced recently, but “WEIGHT” circles the leader’s shrinking belief in himself. It’s a frank examination of his role in the group, one that’s become murkier as the Brockhampton has faced new, unexpected challenges like having to address, clumsily, the sexual assault accusations leveled at Vann, and the isolation that’s arriving with success.
Ultimately, the verse veers further into the diaristic. Abstract ends his turn on the mic with a high school story about the pressure of dealing with his developing sexual identity as a teenager — “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” — and the song hits its peak.
“Weight” features stellar contributions from Joba and Dom McLennon to round the song out (they admirably try to keep pace with Abstract here), each sharing how the newfound success of the group has affected them. Later songs like “Tonya” are more overt in addressing the recent controversy, but it’s the subtlety of “WEIGHT” that makes an often chaotic album like iridescence relatable — the quality that brought the group its die-hard followers in the first place.