Last year, the furore around American ‘boy band’ Brockhampton reached fever pitch. Their handful of UK shows sold out in minutes, festival slots saw thousands descend on stages far too small to hold them and their fourth album, the Abbey Road-recorded ‘Iridescence’, was one of the most highly anticipated of the year. But although last year’s release was strong, it failed to reach the heights of the group’s acclaimed ‘Saturation’ trilogy. They’ve relatively been quiet ever since.
This week, hough, the the group’s svengali member Kevin Abstract posted an image on Instagram that suggested he’d be releasing something new – and that something, it turns out, was EP ‘ARIZONA baby’, and it looks like it’s the first of three EPs that Abstract will drop over the coming weeks.
Produced by Jack Antonoff and fellow Brockhampton member Romil Hemnani, the three-song release falls somewhere between ‘Iridescence’ and Abstract’s 2016 solo album ‘American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story’. There are lilting vocoder inflected vocal lines and soft acoustic guitar riffs, though they’re combined with galloping production and fearless rap verses.
Antonoff’s influence is obvious throughout, particularly on the bolshie, brass lead ‘Joy Ride’. The musical extraordinaire’s songwriting prowess, mixed with Abstract and Hemnani’s tendency for bold experimentation, has refined the Brockhampton man’s sound. ‘Big Wheels’ is the closest we get to a Brockhampton song, with its sparkling synths and skittering beats, but it feels more focussed. Gone are lingering, somewhat indulgent breakdowns, and in their place is confident, clean production that trims the song and ends it without an extended outro. As a whole, the EP feels more polished than Abstract’s previous releases, but this doesn’t mean he’s lost his wild creativity.
Abstract’s first solo release in two-and-a-half years is short but sweet. After four Brockhampton albums, ‘ARIZONA baby’ is a brilliant reminder of the 22-year-old’s huge talent. Bring on the next two EPs.