Kevin Abstract has already experienced a most curious musical career. The 27-year-old was the de facto leader of Brockhampton, the much-hyped, sprawling boyband that developed a cult fanbase with their ‘Saturation’ trilogy released in 2017. As they signed to a major label, things got a bit wobbly: member Ameer Van left the band amidst scandal and they scrapped a record, but they remained prolific and went on to release a further four albums in as many years. In 2022, they split for good.
Abstract had been busy with his solo career, too. NME called his 2019 album ‘Arizona Baby’ a “neat reminder of the Brockhampton svengali Abstract’s enormous talent” and he had guest appearances on work from Kae Tempest and Easy Life. He hinted that he wanted to retire in 2019 to focus on filmmaking, and served as a creative consultant on HBO’s hit show Euphoria. It’s been hard to pin Abstract down – you sense that’s the way he likes it.
‘Hunger’, his first music since Brockhampton’s disbandment, is similarly elusive. He says in an accompanying note that the split of his band left him depressed and “unsure of his path forward” and that he wanted to make a “Sunny Day Real Estate, Nirvana, Modest Mouse type of record” but one that will “hit like a rap album”.
It picks up where ‘Arizona Baby’ left off, but burrows deeper into those indie-rock influences. At times, such is the vocal manipulation and the lo-fi feel, you could mistake some of this material for Alex G or even DIIV. That said, few could fashion a hit like ‘Madonna’ – the record’s standout moment – which is up there with his finest solo material, and ‘Real To Me’, which is crisp and punchy.
In totality, however, the collection is more of a mood piece than of noticeable, memorable songs. There are songs with no discernible beginning, middle or end: ‘Scream’’s disparate parts and melodies don’t quite marry, while ‘Blanket’ bets its success on big riffs and not a lot more. ‘My Friend’, which features buzzy indie-folk hero Kara Jackson and Wednesday’s MJ Lendermen, feels buried at the end of the record, despite its strength.
‘Blanket’ feels like another piece of the grand puzzle that is Kevin Abstract, and though it might not be his strongest material – heartfelt, for sure – he remains an alluring figure, a lightning rod for ideas. He is, reliably, never dull.
- Release date: November 3, 2023
- Record label: RCA