Can’t stop, won’t stop. Less than a year after BROCKHAMPTON’s major-label debut, GINGER arrives. My feelings toward their debut are mostly indifferent. While it was a skillful showing, as a whole it left me wanting more. To me, they needed to take their time. Even though they didn’t adhere to my preference, there’s a lot to like here. Clearly this collective had a lot on their minds. They stay true to the BROCKHAMPTON sound and also explore new territory. Aggressive bangers are few and far between on this one. However, the collective allow their sound to mature, spilling their most vulnerable innards. The record begins beautifully with latest single “NO HALO.” This breezy guitar-laced offering sets a tone of uncertainty and despondence. Although not every track here is a sad one, many of them leave a trail of overcast emotions. This is a welcome artistic progression nonetheless.
Following Ameer Van’s excommunication, BROCKHAMPTON songs are less gritty. As a result, Merlyn Woods and Joba are left to bring the juice. Merlyn especially does just that. His contributions on their previous record underwhelmed me. It sounded as though they didn’t know where to fit him in that particular style. Here he shines like he should, elevating GINGER’s fun ceiling. This album is a near-perfect blend of goofy, heartfelt, and forward-thinking jams that are sure to please every kind of BROCKHAMPTON fan. Despite the absence of a “SWAMP” or “J’OUVERT” type track, GINGER as a whole delivers substance in an entertaining fashion. Normally, listeners must choose between one or the other. Here, however, a Neapolitan mix of flavors ensures there is at least one song for everyone, without sacrificing authenticity along the way. This is their best all-around effort since SATURATION II. This will hold me over till next time.
Conversely, in terms of gripes, I have a couple. For starters: I think this album still could have been shorter. At a sturdy 45 minutes, GINGER does not overstay its welcome. Yet if they were to cut “BOY BYE” and tweak “IF YOU PRAY RIGHT,” this could have arguably been their best record to date. I probably still would have a bias towards SATURATION, the first one, but it could have been argued. To me, “BOY BYE” stifles the introductory vibe of the album. The sweet, somber aesthetic transitions naturally into the more rhythmic middle section without the need for an abrupt change of pace. Also, “IF YOU PRAY RIGHT’s” conclusion keeps me from running the track back. After multiple listens, the vocal embellishments didn’t seem necessary. I’d much rather skip to “DEARLY DEPARTED” — because it’s such a sick song. That brand of airy soul is rare nowadays.
Alas, BROCKHAMPTON continue to prove they are in a league of their own. Tracks like “SUGAR,” “ST. PERCY,” and the title track will likely extend this record’s longevity deep into autumn, and even possibly mid-winter. They won’t have to drop another album for at least the next 18 months. But, knowing them and their collective work ethic, there will probably be a new BROCKHAMPTON project before we know it. Again, I do hope they take some more time to cook up classic singles, so the band will go down in history. They have all the tools to do so. A sophomore studio album such as this promises that great things are on the horizon for the pop sensations. Perhaps we’ll finally receive those solo albums in the near future. Who knows? One thing is for sure, though: GINGER is living proof of what we can achieve when we work together.
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