Review: Brockhampton releases best album yet, “GINGER”

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Graham Kanwit, Website Editor

Last Friday, the self-professed “best boy band since One Direction,” Brockhampton, released their new album “GINGER,” which is not only one of the band’s strongest records, but it is also one of the best albums of the year so far.

“GINGER” is Brockhampton’s fifth album in three years, following their “SATURATION” trilogy in 2017 and “iridescence” in 2018. While the “SATURATION” albums received acclaim for wide-ranging experimentation, “iridescence” failed to recreate the all-encompassing sound of SATURATIONand exposed the band’s vulnerabilities after Ameer Vann, one of the band’s most prominent members, was accused of sexual assault and kicked out of Brockhampton. On “GINGER,” Brockhampton has accepted that they can’t do everything, and the result is their best, most cohesive work yet.

The band’s founder, Ian Simpson (a.k.a. Kevin Abstract) compared the album’s sound to OutKast’s “Hey Ya” in a recent GQ interview. But “GINGER, more than anything, sounds like the collection of “Hey Ya”s that OutKast decided not to release because they were too sad. 

If the record has any flaw, it’s that the youthful, spontaneous energy of the band’s 2017 albums is hard to come by on “GINGER.  However, it’s up for debate whether the energy of “SATURATIONis truly gone, or simply taking a more subdued role to allow the gravitas of other moments to shine through. In any case, Brockhampton truly shines on “GINGER’s” emotional ballads. The gentle, acoustic opener “NO HALO” delves into breakups and lost faith. On “SUGAR”–what is perhaps the album’s best track–Brockhampton’s many members take turns walking the tightrope between enamoration and heartbreak over descending guitars and muted drums. 

However, the emotional and thematic peak of “GINGER” occurs on the album’s seventh track, “DEARLY DEPARTED.” It’s a sprawling, atmospheric slow-burner with wailing guitars and soothing bass, sounding more like the brainchild of Prince and Jimi Hendrix than a cut from a rap record–that is, until rapper Dom McLennon enters the song with the best verse of the album. McLennon introduces his verse by asking: “How many sides to a story can there be when you saw it with your own eyes?”–a line that encompasses the emotional trauma, troubled childhoods and experiences with police brutality the band discusses throughout the album’s runtime. 

“GINGER” serves as a rebuilding point for Brockhampton, but one that purposefully pushes the band’s sound forward and experiments with new ideas. From the themes of the record, it is clear that Brockhampton may not be where they want to yet, but for the first time in the band’s history, they are okay with it.

Highlights: “NO HALO,” “SUGAR,” “IF YOU PRAY RIGHT,” “DEARLY DEPARTED”

Skips: “HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU”

Rating: 9/10