Boy band evolves with new album

BROCKHAMPTON’s new album provides introspective and mature take


Isabella Mason, Staff Writer

BROCKHAMPTON’s latest album, “ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE”, offers a more mature perspective than the boy band has cultivated to date in their discography, with catchy tracks and a cohesive sound.

The album starts with a repetitive sample on “BUZZCUT”, not waiting long before the beat begins and Kevin Abstract raps about his family dynamics. “CHAIN ON” features a catchy riff and an exciting JPEGMAFIA appearance. “COUNT ON ME” is a different vibe, opening with a whistle riff and quickly dropping into a beat with a little more swagger than we’ve seen before. Oddly enough, Shawn Mendes is featured on this track. This surprising for me — it felt like a weird crossover episode that I didn’t ask for, but still found enjoyable.

“BANKROLL” is a little more aggressive than other tracks we’ve seen on this album so far — Merlyn Wood is the main vocalist on it, and his voice conveys that feeling of investment and passion. This is a classic BROCKHAMPTON piece and sounds like a more mature version of several tracks off of “iridescence”. I liked Merlyn’s reference in the last couple verses of “BANKROLL” to Jordan Peele’s “Get Out”. At one point Merlyn says “Sunken place always comin’ in your dreams.”

These lyrics are a possible transition to the spoken-verse intro of the next song, “THE LIGHT”, in which Joba discusses his father’s suicide. This is new for BROCKHAMPTON — a meaningful, dark notion of death and loss, and this sense of maturity. This song, to me, symbolizes change, or transition at the very least. “Something’s missing’ deep inside / The light.”

After “THE LIGHT” comes to an end, we get “WINDOWS”, which is, to me, forgettable in the shadow of “THE LIGHT”. Still, this song serves as a good transition from seriousness to eventual joviality, with a deep beat and intimidating verses.

After “I’LL TAKE YOU ON” and “OLD NEWS”, we get my favorite track off the entire album. “WHAT’S THE OCCASION?”, which for some reason, absolutely does it for me. It’s got this nostalgic, falling, “Rick & Morty”-climax-theme sort of attitude that I can’t shake. It just feels like something’s gone wrong and you’ve got feelings about it. I like songs that access emotion, and “THE LIGHT” and “WHAT’S THE OCCASION?” both do that, probably providing a rationale for why I’m so partial to both of these songs.

“WHEN I BALL” comes on and is, for me, probably the most forgettable track, not because it’s bad — it’s pretty good — but more so because it’s the song I want to end so I can get to the next one — “DON’T SHOOT UP THE PARTY”.

“All-American self-hatred runs deep / White boys all I see whenever I sleep / [expletive] think I think these thoughts on purpose / But I knew ‘bout NSYNC ‘fore cash could rule me.” These lyrics are of particular importance in light of current events, as Kevin addresses the Eurocentrism that plagues his self-esteem, and has from a young age. The title of the song gives away the message. Abstract will go on to note the effects of gun violence, asking for his party to not be shot up, making note of the horrifying homicide and suicide rates in the U.S. “What’s the issue? / Why you gotta grab that pistol? / Think about who gon’ miss you / Never know what I been through.”

The outro of “ROADRUNNER” is “THE LIGHT PT. II”, which features vocals from Joba and Abstract, just like “THE LIGHT”, The album ends on an introspective note, which symbolizes BROCKHAMPTON’s growth as a group and as individuals.

The largest difference between “ROADRUNNER” and previous BROCKHAMPTON albums, I’d say, would be the ease at which “ROADRUNNER” plays. By this, I mean that the album is meticulously engineered — it has a good flow and the songs run intuitively. I’m impressed by the growth that is so obvious in this album; it just feels more mature — the result of a collective group of voices not at war with each other. The cohesive nature of “ROADRUNNER” will make it one of BROCKHAMPTON’s best.

“The light is worth the wait,” reads the album’s promotional phrase, and it rings true throughout.