‘Ginger’ is Brockhampton’s fifth album, but by rights it should be their seventh or eighth. In the last few years the LA boyband have scrapped records by the names of ‘Team Effort’, ‘Puppy’ and more, putting a halt to their seemingly runaway momentum as one of the hottest bands on the planet after the departure of founding member Ameer Vann, who was accused of sexual misconduct in 2018.
All of this was contended with on last year’s ‘Iridescence’ LP, a dogged, fiery record about reckoning with the past in order to move forwards. On the evidence of ‘Ginger’, it seems the band have now emerged out the other side.
As an opening salvo, first track ‘No Halo’ sits pretty much as far away from the gloopy, intense beats of ‘Iridescence’ as it’s possible to go. A summery, languid guitar line introduces LA singer Ryan Beatty, one of a host of special guests across the record, and when he sings “I don’t know where I’m going” to open the record, he reflects the tone of the album that will follow – one of peace in the here and now, a willingness to just exist quietly in one place for a while.
Beatty is joined on the record by the likes of Slowthai (who has the whole 90 seconds of ‘Heaven Belongs To You’ to himself, softly rapping about his relationship with religion). The album’s final track, ‘Victor Roberts’, sees the band introducing a new collaborator of the same name who possesses a sprightly, bouncy voice.
Across ‘Ginger’, Brockhampton push themselves forward gently in musical terms. ‘Boy Bye’ is a carnival-like thing with a spellbinding lead line and freewheeling verses from every member swirling around, and this spirit is continued on the album’s highlight, its title track. ‘Ginger’ is the sound of the lyrical weight of ‘Iridescence’ being forcibly lifted off the band, with auto-tuned melodies floating around a catchy, snappy beat. It’s utter bliss.
‘Iridescence’ didn’t possess the hits that the band conjured on the ‘Saturation’ trilogy, and that’s something that will perhaps befall ‘Ginger’ too. There are plenty of hooks here, but nothing to make a festival tent bounce like ‘Boogie’ or ‘Gold’ can. It’s a small criticism, though, on an album that resets Brockhampton’s compass and sees them straying away from the danger of implosion that ‘Iridescence’ seemed to suggest.
“Thank God that I’m built for the distance,” Kevin Abstract states on ‘Victor Roberts’. ‘Ginger’ looks set to ensure that Brockhampton are here to stay.