Self-proclaimed boy band BROCKHAMPTON has consistently released music since their debut, “ALL-AMERICAN TRASH,” in 2016. From then until their most recent release “GINGER,” they’ve dropped their most memorable work, the SATURATION series, followed by the less acclaimed IRIDESCENCE in 2018.
The group’s consistency is noteworthy, especially when R&B listeners are nearly pulling their hair out for Beyonce and Frank Ocean to come out with new music. However, as the over-saturation of new and fleeting artists has indicated, the constant influx of new music doesn’t necessarily mean it is good or refined. If Kanye has taught us anything with the success of “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” versus the abomination “Ye,” it’s that perfectionism in artistry is a much better thing than constantly reaching for something new.
Luckily, BROCKHAMPTON has enough youth and energy to put out decent work. They’ve established themselves as talented in their own right, so they won’t be disappearing any time soon.
That said, the group hasn’t shown many signs of evolving in “GINGER.” It’s still experimental, just like every other BROCKHAMPTON album, but it lacks a certain maturity or indication that the band will go in a different artistic direction. For example, they still insist on putting all song titles in caps which seems to be an attempt to establish themselves as unique.
The first track, “HALO,” has a nice acoustic and showcases Matt Champion’s lyrical talent. This track captures the desperation of mental illness that is difficult to capture musically, especially with different artists that each have their own respective struggles. Their lamentations about mental health struggles seem to culminate in each of them talking about relieving pain with weed, which I must admit isn’t revolutionary in the slightest.
Former pop-star Ryan Beatty is featured on “SUGAR,” which seems like a surprising turn for BROCKHAMPTON, but Beatty’s vocals fit appropriately with the acoustics. This track is a slower R&B song but sounds too much like Khalid for me to enjoy it.
“BOY BYE” features an inexplicable sound that almost sounds like chords from a banjo. This track wholly exemplifies BROCKHAMPTON’s notion for experimentation and just how perfect their sound is when they do mess around with different styles. Juxtaposed with the previous track, it proves that when the group attempts to fit into what’s trending, it ultimately makes them sound worse.
“GINGER” can be streamed on Spotify and Apple Music.
“HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU” has a trippy, eerie ring to it, which fits well with the overall theme of the album. Some of the lyrics are a little corny (“there’s war in my head like the Middle East”), but overall, it’s not a bad track. “ST. PERCY” follows suit with a cerebral tune while BROCKHAMPTON relives their respective upbringings and subsequent accumulation of wealth.
“IF YOU PRAY RIGHT” has a trumpet accompanying the beat, which was likely meant to be interesting and experimental, but comes off more as goofy. “DEARLY DEPARTED” reminds me of why Kevin Abstract is one of the most talented voices in R&B today, lyrically and vocally. The artist recounts the loss of friends, both physically and emotionally.
“I BEEN BORN AGAIN” is surprisingly cliche for BROCKHAMPTON, given the group is seemingly bragging about being rich. If the lyrics were as clever as BROCKHAMPTON is capable of writing, it may be excusable, but “Money on my mind, couple hunnids at a time” isn’t anything impressive.
The titular track, “GINGER,” starts out with Mother Earth’s Plantasia-esque chords, which sound like a mix of techno and R&B. This is the most promising track of the album because it explores a theme that is often talked about today but very seldom written about, which is that it’s important to reach out to friends, especially if they are going through hard times.
“BIG BOY” is an angry heartbreak song, which I haven’t heard much of since Taylor Swift was in her heyday. “LOVE ME FOR LIFE” is really thematically sporadic, and it’s really difficult to understand what BROCKHAMPTON was going for with this track. I’m unsure if it’s about psychedelics, breakups, smoking weed or all the above. Merlyn Wood’s loud, squeaky voice also sounds awful on this track given how smooth the instrumentals are.
“VICTOR ROBERTS” has really nice piano chords that make Victor Roberts sound like he’s doing spoken word poetry rather than rapping. It doesn’t exactly fit thematically into the album, but it is a smooth way to wrap it all up.
The biggest disappointment of “GINGER” is that it doesn’t flow lyrically or sonically — it’s all over the place. Luckily, BROCKHAMPTON isn’t going anywhere, and the young group has more than enough time to figure themselves out before moving onto their next project.
Best Tracks: “boy bye,” “ginger”
Worst Tracks: “sugar,” “i been born again”
Elena Waldman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @WaldmanElena.