The Family / TM
(Question Everything inc.)
BROCKHAMPTON are probably the best consequence of Kanye West. After meeting on a fan forum dedicated to him in 2015, BROCKHAMPTON quickly began making music together and released the album ‘ALL AMERICAN TRASH’ in 2016. Cut to 2022 the band is in a notably different place than they were when they penned this album or their beloved ‘SATURAUTION’ trilogy-they’ve been dogged by allegations and label problems, even declaring they were no longer going to be a band after a performance at Coachella. But somehow, they managed to pull through and release these new albums.
The first album,‘The Family’ can best be summarized by the album sleeve art i.e. a collection of randomly assorted pictures that still manage to convey the deep sadness behind everything, as a large pair of eyes appear to glare down on everything on the cover. The second track ‘RZA’ is a clear portrayal of this-the bulk of the song is a mixture of deeply clashing sounds-synths, drumbeats, and an out-of-tune chorus all collapse in on each other creating a deeply disconcerting mix before a sudden shift on the song on the “why don’t you keep the band together” and the song ends on the more dower note that “we agreed not to talk about”. This theme runs throughout the album as the band, most notably Kevin Abstract who takes control throughout most of it, look to identify some way to find peace, as they come to the resolution that “I know you don’t like who I am but ill change for you”.
However, whereas ‘The Family’ is bombastic and loud, ‘TM’ is much more reserved sonically and focused on the group as a whole-really allowing the different performances to shine -particularly Joba and Matt Champion. The album feels as if they’ve revisited the songs that defined their ‘iridescence’ album (2018) for the low tempo of ‘ANIMAL’ that is mainly composed of a calm trap drums and minimal synth and a return the ‘SATURATION’ era (2017) music with tracks like ‘KEEP IT SOUTHERN’. Whilst there are certain songs, most notably 'MAN ON THE MOON', that feel incredibly out of place on the record its overall mange sot be a relatively well-rounded send-off for the band.
However the most notable news that was circulating the release of the album was the possible re-inclusion of bandmate Ameer Vann. After being at the forefront of the band, often portrayed alongside unofficial lead Kevin Abstract, and plastered on the album covers for the ‘SATURATION’ trilogy he was ousted from the band in 2018 in the wake of several abuse allegations. His exit dramatically impacted all the members of the band with the following albums (‘iridescence’ and ‘GINGER’ in 2019), clouded by his actions- with heim even being addressed directly on ‘IF YOU PRAY RIGHT’. Whilst he is not physically present on either of the new albums, he still carries a presence that runs through them with Kevin Abstract even confessing that “I missed Ameer so me and Dom kept fighting”. It’s clear that his exit from the band was one that drastically changed them and even now as they try and pick up the final pieces before bowing out forever, he is still an influential presence to them and their music.
‘The Family’ and ‘TM’ work to portray BROKCHAMPTON as a band at the end of their rope - they have endured enough collectively that they see no real place to disperse it but into the ether through the potency. These may be the final records that the band will make together (or so they have claimed), and although they may be a far cry from their ‘SATURATION’ era, this is a fine way to say goodbye.