Iridescence is the physical phenomenon of a surface appearing to magically change colour thanks to everyone’s favourite prankster, light. It’s the reason soap bubbles and splodges of petroleum look like purpley-green puddles of prettiness; the logical explanation behind certain animals seeming to shimmer with colour. The word iridescence comes from the Greek word Iris, the name given to the mythological goddess of rainbows. According to a bunch of very, very old books – shout out to The Iliad – Iris’ job was to deliver truth down to us mere mortals, using the rainbow as a sort-of archaic motorway direct from Heaven. Incidentally, old Iris also had a part-time job as the goddess of fertility, too, and in ‘Iridescence’ Brockhampton find their own truthful rebirth.
Recorded over 10 days at London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios, fresh off the back of effortlessly selling out a comically tiny KOKO (the venue could barely contain them), ‘Iridescence’ puts aside braggadocio. Instead, it muses on what it means to be global hot property, the weighty responsibility that comes with it, and the importance of delivering the truth. “There’s no money on my mind / But my money or my mind,” ponders Bearface, flipping Snoop Dogg’s ‘Gin and Juice’ upside on on ‘Tonya’, “What’s the first to fall?”
The story of the American figure skater Tonya Harding – brought back into the public consciousness by the recent film I, Tonya – is a well-known fable of soaring fame brought crashing down by scandal. And Brockhampton, too, were left skating on metaphorical thin ice a day after signing a gigantic RCA record deal worth millions of dollars. Following serious sexual assault allegations against Ameer Vann – who has since left the group as a consequence – Kevin Abstract tweeted that his life resembled the plot of I, Tonya. “Why the hell the BBC only writes about me/ When it comes down to controversy?” he asks on ‘Fabric’, “What about three CDs in one year with no label? And we signed and our story turned into a fucking fable”.
Far from making vague allusions to the events prior to ‘Iridescence’, Brockhampton lay them bare, atop some of their most adventurous work to date. “It’s different reconciling with skeletons I ain’t know that I possessed,” raps Dom McLennon on ‘Thug Life’, and yet, that’s what ‘Iridescence’ strives to do.
Praise shouldn’t be blindly heaped upon Brockhampton for directly acknowledging Vann – in an ideal world accountability would be a basic expectation. However, in a landscape where so many other artists sweep serious allegations under an ever-murkier rug of deceit and complicity, every day, the group’s strides to confront their demons demonstrate they’re dedicated to taking the longer and more difficult road. “When there’s a rough patch, don’t eyefuck the parachute,” says Matt Champion on ‘J’Ouvert’, “They goin’ AWOL the second that the light goes on”. Meanwhile, Brockhampton – regrouped and renewed – aren’t going anywhere.