By Ryan Martin (@RyanMartin182)
Preceding last year’s All-American Trash mixtape, Brockhampton, the boy band from Texas, break down the door on the opener of their debut album, Saturation. Opening with one of the many unstoppable singles released before the album, Heat has elements reminiscent of the punk attitude Odd Future carried in their prime and the hardcore sound Rage Against the Machine had. While it’s clear Brockhampton have many influences (they have a track named 2Pac), they bring a fresh new energy to the table through their music and visuals.
Dancing between banging hip-hop tracks and turn of the millennium pop music, Saturation is all over the place and doesn’t settle on a specific sound. Going from the intensity of Heat to the laid-back braggadocio of Gold feels like an unnatural transition but still carries momentum. The backbone of Gold is the Pharrell-esque hook which is repeated throughout the track and flows like butter over the beat. Star follows and is one of the best tracks on the album. All three members of the collective murder their verses with name-drops and flow change ups. Kevin Abstract, the leader of Brockhampton, incorporates personal lyrics about his sexuality and love for pop-star Shawn Mendes, resulting in one of the most incredible verses on the whole project. Within the first 4 tracks of the album, it becomes apparent that while the project may be scattered in sound, the chemistry of the collective is undeniable and what makes the songs succeed in the way they do.
Abstract has stated on his Twitter that the project is about member Robert’s story, with the skits on the album and the intros to each video accompanying the album starring him. The skits usually follow the same formula as the intros to the videos and have Robert introduce himself and state a fact about himself or the situation he is currently in. The third skit captures more of what Robert’s story actually is, which is trying to find others that you connect with and finding a place where you feel you actually belong. Much of this can be directed back at the lyrics on the album in songs like Milk where Abstract croons over the hook:
I gotta get better at being me (Being who I am) I gotta get better at everything (Being who I am) I just want a friend that I can hang out with (Being who I am) Someone I can sit around, lay on my couch with (Being who I am)
Milk is an especially honest track for members featured Ameer Vann, Merlyn Wood and Abstract. The verses are direct and highlight past struggles and insecurities. The personal lyrics on Saturation is where the album connects where it doesn’t in sound. There are much more pop songs than there are songs like Heat and Star, The aggressive flow of both tracks can be found in spurts throughout the album, with not many other songs having a similar tone. Bump is a minor exception with an awkward hook by Abstract with hard hitting verses surrounding him. The hook takes away from the vibe of the track and is one of the most lackluster on the whole project.
Much like Abstract’s last release, his sophomore solo album, American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story, traces of indie rock can be found throughout the album in songs like Swim and the gentle closer, Waste. The incorporation of indie rock can be a hit or miss with Abstract. With both tracks mentioned, they add a level of depth while bringing a bright summer theme to the project.
Saturation is much more cohesive than last year’s All-American Trash and highlights the group’s chemistry more than ever. Where it falls flats is when tracks become cluttered with ideas with vocal distortions and clumsy additions that restrict members from shining on their own. Overall, Brockhampton’s debut is a solid offering that can attract new fans and bring excitement for what the group is going to do next, which is a sequel to Saturation, due out later this summer.