After over 10 years together, the Texas native boyband BROCKHAMPTON has disbanded, but not before releasing two final albums: “The Family” and “TM.” “The Family,” released on Nov. 18, was promoted pretty regularly by the band’s leader Kevin Abstract. It wasn’t until after “The Family” had dropped that “TM” was announced and released the next day. Both albums had decent tracks. Yet, I found myself returning to “TM” more regularly and had trouble recalling the standout songs from “The Family.” While I could talk about each song on both albums, there were three tracks off of each release that I thought stood out.
“Take It Back” is a perfect opener to their “final” album. With a heavy bass and high-energy vocals, Abstract reminisces over how the band formed, what he wishes they did and what he is grateful the band gave him. The song sets the tone for the rest of the album and feels like a goodbye letter to his bandmates.
Following “Take It Back,” “RZA” is the second song off of “The Family.” Similar to most of the tracks on the album, “RZA” only has Abstract on the song -– despite being labeled a BROCKHAMPTON album. Initially, I wasn’t a huge fan of Abstract’s solos, but “TM” made up for the lack of other members on the previous album. “RZA” is a song with an upbeat sound that contrasts with bittersweet lyrics like “My mama asking me/Ian why don’t you keep the band together.” The song includes a pitched-up sample, a funky bassline and Abstract doing a great job at keeping the energy up with his vocals. The song runs just under 2:15 and really carries the first half of the album.
The final track from “The Family” that stood out to me was the fifth track titled “All That.” It has a more relaxed feeling than the previous song, but is just as strong. While the other tracks on the album were very good, “All That” felt more like a BROCKHAMPTON song than any of the other tracks. The high-pitched harmonies over the smooth guitar line were reminiscent of their old projects; which was a nice surprise to hear. Abstract explains a fight that broke out between the band, giving the audience a glimpse into why the band actually broke up. I would have to say that out of the three songs off of “The Family,” I returned to “All That” the most.
While I liked “The Family,” “TM” felt like the sendoff that BROCKHAMPTON needed. The first track that stood out to me was “MAN ON THE MOON,” a fun, fast-paced song with a peppy melody, quick drums and jazzy keyboard. My favorite aspect of the song was the synth accents that easily keep the listener engaged while still keeping the energy up. While no other song on the album sounded like it; it didn’t feel out of place and added diversity to the album as a whole.
The second song that stood out to me was “BETTER THINGS,” a dreamy, slow and synth-heavy piece. The simple instrumentals and quiet vocals are a perfect change of pace for the album. The panning synth accents and bells added to the hazy feel of the song and emphasized some of their more emotional lyrics. While “GOODBYE” is the slow closer of the album, I felt that “BETTER THINGS” was more emotional and should have been the finale for “TM.”
“CRUCIFY ME” was the last song that stood out to me and was arguably the best song off of both albums. A soft jazz piano accompanies slower lyrics, and gentle electronic accents add a level of mystery to the song. However, the most notable part of the song is around 2:48 when the piano slowly becomes more harsh and dissonant. More instruments are added as the song builds, and by the 4:22 mark the song is completely disjunctive, only to end with a final droning synth chord. The song perfectly encapsulates the creativity that drives BROCKHAMPTON and the style that they have so carefully curated.
Despite the previous six songs being my favorites, I found it very hard to narrow it down and thought that both albums were a great final bow from the group. If you’re looking to listen to more BROCKHAMPTON, you can find them on all streaming platforms or follow the group members individually.