Boy Bands Are Back: Review of Ginger by BROCKHAMPTON

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Willamette Week

Ian Denshaw

The internet success story of BROCKHAMPTON has been extended into a new chapter with their newest release Ginger. In the album the self-proclaimed boy band demonstrates their extreme emotional and musical maturation, from heartfelt stories of early childhood trauma on the song VICTOR ROBERTS to the stories of later life struggles in NO HALO. The band also holds on to the adolescent charm which brought them their initial fame with songs like BOY BYE in which they demonstrate their signature ability to create a song with fun beats and lyrics. They show that they truly enjoy making their music.

The beats and sample work in the album is very reminiscent of their earlier works in the saturation trilogy. The diverse sound of the group is achieved through the combined efforts and cooperation of the bands thirteen members. Kevin Abstract further demonstrates lyrical ability along with other vocalists Bearface, Matt Champion, Merlyn Wood, Dom McLennan, and Joba. The new yet familiar beat work is the combined work of the remaining members. Some songs to highlight the album include NO HALO, BOY BYE, HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU, IF YOU PRAY RIGHT, BIG BOY, VICTOR ROBERTS, and the fan favorite DEARLY DEPARTED in which the boy band reminisce of, grieve for, and condemn the actions of their old friend Ameer Vann.

After the initial success of the Saturation trilogy, the band signed a record deal with RCA records. This should have been a happy occasion, but it was quickly overshadowed by allegations of emotional abuse and sexual misconduct against Ameer Vann. The boys then made the decision to drop their old friend. This is clearly a large point of interest along with struggles with faith and depression in light of the earlier events. 

While one might expect for the band to suffer musically due to the loss of one of their key vocalists, it seems he was holding the band back, in multiple ways. The emotional trauma caused by Ameers actions seems to have allowed the boys to blossom as their new songs seem to be more poetic and full of emotion. For example this excerpt from NO HALO where Joba tells a story of returning to faith after being thrown into a depression and coping with chemicals. He talks about the struggle of wanting to hold himself to a higher standard but not yet having the self control and mental strength to change at the time. 

“Went to church for the hell of it, stumbled in drunk as shit
Been goin’ through it again
Been talkin’ to myself, wonderin’ who I am, been thinkin’, I am better than him
In times like these, I just need to believe it’s all part of a plan
Lost a part of me, but I am still here”
-Joba (NO HALO)

Another highlight of the groups new lyrical ability is shown by Dom McLennan who had previously been described by the rest of the band as the groups poet. In the song VICTOR ROBERTS Dom tells a story of growing up in a poor community surrounded by drugs. When he was young, his family took in a kid who grew up to put them in danger. The emotional verse demonstrates Dom’s rhythmic talent and poetic timing, sewing words into a linear story that while being abstract is easily followed by the listener.

“The truth is, we held her back for this kid we took in
Tryna part with his old ways, maybe we all mistook him
‘Cause I knew something was fucked up when he said
“Don’t open or look in this here satchel that I’ll be back for in just a couple of minutes”
And hella hours later like lookin’ in an hour later
What about cold food for a cold fool?
Motherfucker put my family in danger”
-Dom (VICTOR ROBERTS)