Brockhampton return with a softer sound for their fifth album, embracing gently plucked guitars that caress the ears from the onset with their trademark heavy beats and expansive range intertwined throughout the work.
The band’s last album, Iridescence, released last year, is seen as their “London album” not only because it was recorded on Abbey Road but because they say they used London influences from grime incorporated into parts of the runs in the album. In an NME video interview (published August 16 2019), the band said they consider GINGER as a Californian, L.A vibe album similar to the Saturation trilogy, hoping for a summer record. GINGER’s album art stars Joba in a bear hug, almost how the album is like a hug itself.
‘No Halo’ opens the group’s twelve-track album and features Deb Never’s light voice as a harmony with Matt Champion’s flow and Merlyn’s sombre singing to make listeners swoon.
Sugar‘s rhythm carries on the romantic sound of the guitar strung in the background, accompanied by the altered angelic voice of Kevin Abstract on the bridge, followed through with Bearface’s repetition of “do you love me?”
‘Boy Bye’ is a fast-paced, sweet-sounding rap track which simultaneously manages to discuss dealing with depression, trauma, family problems, and addiction in one loop. Merlyn’s part on the chorus followed by a staple Brockhampton-sounding verse with Bearface’s seductive vocals concludes the song well into Joba’s sweetly-sung outro, “I’m beautiful and bashful”.
St. Percy is the album’s most gritty, hip hop influenced song in my humble opinion, with deep bass beats that will have you frowning in delight with the volume turned up. Highlights include the 90’s sound of the slowed down chorus, Matt Champion’s “Cirque olé”, Bearface’s rhythmic verse, and the running beat through the entire track. Abstract’s verse on ‘I Been Born Again’ similarly smacks clean with the crisp instrumental backing track of the song.
The sombre tone of Dearly Departed patterned with a bass reverberating Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, and Dom Mclennon’s heavy verses balances the endlessly-playable GINGER against the upbeat effects of the songs either side of it on the track list. The track is allegedly about ex-band member, Ameer Vann, who left in 2018 due to sexual misconduct charges. Mclennon’s closing verse particularly is a mic drop moment, running for two minutes, sealed with the eruption of electric guitar chords.
The eponymous track, Ginger is another favourite (basically a majority of the album at this point). The backing track is a melancholic pop sound, mixed to precision. It somehow takes me back to the days of the Sugarbabes (‘About You Now’), but that’s just me. Want a track to run on the treadmill to? A song to feel sad to? ‘Ginger’ does both of these things from the opening “know you got your own shit and all of it together, and you know you got your own space right here forever” (which is repeated for the chorus) and Bearface’s closing vocals for added melancholy. The backing track sped up for Matt Champion’s verse meanwhile creates a good running pace, intermixed with choir back-up harmonies to bring the song back down to earth.
Love Me For Life discusses feeling lonely and does it with the smooth tones of Joba’s verse (possibly my favourite and best *sung* verse on the album, Joba can really sing and rap) asking “How do we grow? How should I know? Feel responsible, intolerable, displaced, insane”.
Meanwhile, I am living for Merlyn Wood’s sections in each songs on GINGER, which he jolts to life, similar to his high kicks on stage. The triad of opening songs along with the closing songs being a personal favourite, including the magnitude of St. Percy.
Victor Roberts closes the album with a new collaborator, under the name Victor Roberts II, and my favourite part with Abstract singing the chorus “thank God for me” with ample gravitas.
Currently with up to 11 members in the band, Brockhampton have successfully set themselves up to continue to make visionary albums that keep fans guessing.