Prior to their 2018 release, Iridescence, but following the conclusion of their long term project the Saturation trilogy, fans were unsure regarding which direction boy-band Brockhampton would choose to go. Would the series format prevail? Would this album stand on its own?Iridescence came and went without being extended into a series and was instead followed by a separate entity, one of the most highly anticipated album releases of the year: Ginger. However, Ginger is objectively more powerful than Iridescence (no really, even the band admitted so in this video). While I wish I had the time to break down every track on the album, I won’t keep you at your screens for too long. Instead, here are some favorites that deserve particular recognition.
The album begins with “No Halo”. The deep bassline is surprisingly strong for a song that seemingly puts its listeners into a euphoric trance. This feeling of being suspended above the music is fitting as it leads into a full submersion in the world and emotion that is Ginger. Perhaps the most powerful line in this track, possibly the entire album, is Joba’s line, “Lost a part of me, but I am still here.” Transformation, growth, and progress are common themes in Brockhamton’s music. For fans, this line confirms that, while the boys’ lives and careers are in constant movement, at least nothing has changed in that realm. That same feeling continues with fan-favorite “Sugar”. This song embodies the feeling of youthful love without cheesy or predictable lines. Its lyrics are instead borderline tragic, hidden by contrasting romantic elements and a feeling of reliance in the repetition of “back and forth,” placed over a simple beat, similar to “No Halo”.
As “Sugar” comes to a close, the once-consistent vibe comes to a complete halt and transitions from curl-up-in-bed to hyped up roadtrip real quick (a fairly atypical choice for Brockhampton) in “Boy Bye”. This track is an absolute crowd pleaser with an on-brand quirky, upbeat melody paired with strange, playful lyrics. There is a sense of transformation in this song that shows just how far they have come. It is very anthemic (as anthemic as ironic-sounding pop/rap can be). Continuing on the topic of fan-favorites, another top choice is “St. Percy”. While it’s undoubtedly a banger, it also comes off as a fight song. The ad-lib repeating ‘Hey!’ behind the lyrics simulates a gang vocal, giving off the feeling of a rap battle on the track. The song hypes itself up, but that doesn’t stop fans from hyping it right back. Merlyn Wood’s outro is filled with trademark Brockhampton anger. It is similar to the energy of Saturation track, “Heat”, but with a higher level of control that allows it to stand out as more than just a rage track.
We then get into the sixth track, “If You Pray Right”. This may not be high up on the list of fan-favorites, but it should be. It is most likely left excluded from conversation due to the long-winded outro that may not appeal to all listeners. Yet, because of this impressive composition,it is one of the strongest pieces on the album. A simple percussive beat and lyrical repetition are balanced out by funky elements. The additions of constant trumpet and cartoon-like sound effects give its otherwise slow pace animation and lightheartedness. Through this, a theme of the album is revealed: the juxtaposition behind sound and intended meaning.
Finally, “Ginger” is a stand-out track that needs its own shoutout. Not only is it the title track, it successfully paints a picture of what modern rap music is becoming (and is quite possibly one of Brockhampton’s finest songs). The ambient tone and fast, yet simple, lyrics give off a lo-fi hip-hop style. This is the area in which artists like Frank Ocean and No Rome are thriving. Brockhampton has found a way to combine that emotional hip-hop and vibeable (it’s a word if you count Urban Dictionary as an official source) ((I think the boys would approve)) pop sound in a beautiful way that keeps listeners suspended in another other world.
The only arena in which Ginger is lacking is in the ability to find its tracks stuck inside the heads of casual listeners. This was similarly seen following the release of Iridescence, in which there didn’t seem to be many “standout” tracks amongst the many. In Ginger, on first listen, not many songs stand out as well. However, this is because when listened to in one sitting, all tracks genuinely blend together. Brockhampton has always excelled at mastering transitions. One could argue that this is done almost too well on Ginger. Yet, this is not a flaw in production, butather it is a flaw in what consumers expect from a great album. The mainstream expectation of what an album should look and sound like is not something Brockhampton has been known to concern themselves with. Some songs do find their way to stand out by swaying from the traditional flow of the album (see “Boy Bye” or “I Been Born Again”). Besides, we can get our catchy, dance beats from Saturation III. That album isn’t going anywhere. Ginger offers something far more transcending than past albums. Don’t believe it? Check back to that video linked in the beginning; even the boys themselves know this album is something unique.
Review by Caroline Moll