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Released April 9, 2021 via RCA Records / Question Everything

Reviewed April 19, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)

ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE might just be the most complicated entry into BROCKHAMPTON’s discography yet. Allegedly the group’s penultimate album, ROADRUNNER has the potential to be as career-defining as the SATURATION trilogy. After the departure of Ameer Vaan back in 2018, BROCKHAMPTON was left with a bit of an identity crisis as they picked up and reassembled the pieces of their eclectic boyband-meets-hip-hop sound and aesthetic. Their sixth record does little to make that identity any clearer, but that might just be the greatest hallmark of the group’s career. BROCKHAMPTON exploded because of their inability to be pinned down, and ROADRUNNER is near impossible to categorize or identify as anything other than, simply, “BROCKHAMPTON.” With an impressive collection of features (a rare sight for the group), a diverse collection of beats, and what feels like a deliberate effort to shake things up, there is a sense of chaos and uncertainty about what to expect from one track to the next. Yet—even as the group shifts from heavy-hitting, bar-packed cuts for the hip-hop heads to melodic, soulful fusions of R&B and pop—they do it remarkably. BROCKHAMPTON has always been a bit of an enigma, and maybe they always will be, but one thing is for certain: few acts are capable of balancing such high-energy intensity with so much honesty, introspection, and vulnerability as well as America’s favorite boyband consistently has. – Dominick (8.5/10)

If you know BROCKHAMPTON’s work ethic, you’ll know they throw everything they’ve got and keep what sticks. That is, what fits the specific narrative and sonic themes of the record. ROADRUNNER is slightly more liberal in that it boasts a greater variety of timbres whilst still retaining a focused set of themes—particularly persuasion, regret, spirituality, and family. Braggadocious abstract hip-hop bangers like “BUZZCUT” or “DON’T SHOOT UP THE PARTY” are few and far between, as ROADRUNNER prioritises introspection through lax contemporary R&B, contented pop, and contemplative alt-rock. Some may argue its guest production and vocals are invasive, but who doesn’t want to see them collaborate with Danny Brown, Rex Orange County, JPEGMAFIA, Charlie Wilson, or The Neptunes’ very own Chad Hugo? Everyone seamlessly integrates well enough to avoid obstructing BROCKHAMPTON’s sonic identity. ROADRUNNER in fact greatly expands on it, with and without guests, as many moments rival the best parts of what put them on the map in the first place. – Cam (8/10)

It would be unfair to understate the weight of expectations that rest on any post-SATURATION effort BROCKHAMPTON may release. Those expectations not only influence fans' opinions, but the artists’ decisions as well. Pioneering new trends or practices in the music industry and doing so with great success typically comes with a price: the nearly never-ending onus of either improving the formula or rebuilding it as cleverly as it was constructed when it took off. That being said, BROCKHAMPTON has largely met that challenge head on with a surplus of creativity and passion, and ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE is a thoughtful, calculated, and deliberate progression towards a new set of boundaries for the rap group/boyband. – DeVan (7.5/10)

After one of the most unique runs in hip-hop history with 2017’s SATURATION trilogy, BROCKHAMPTON have had their fair share of PR difficulties. Fortunately, they managed to continue dropping great music on iridescence, GINGER, and even Kevin Abstract’s solo effort, ARIZONA BABY. Yet on this new release, ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE, it’s hard to say entirely what the group was going for and where it fits in with the rest of their discography. With so many features and additional vocalists, it barely even feels like a BROCKHAMPTON album at times. It is so different from everything else they’ve done, which is certainly commendable to some extent, but it ultimately fails to capture the magic of their previous efforts. There are certainly great performances scattered throughout, but as a whole, ROADRUNNER feels fairly disappointing when considering the sheer amount of talent held within this group. “Buzzcut” is phenomenal, but its placement as an intro track feels off, considering it does little to set the tone, as the rest of the album sounds absolutely nothing like it. Other shining moments include “The Light,” “Don’t Shoot Up The Party,” and “What’s The Occasion?,” but there just isn’t quite enough to make the album stand out as anything special. Hopefully the group continues to innovate their sound in the future and this winds up as just a minor inconsistency in an otherwise flawless discography. – Hadley (6.5/10)

Dominick: 8.5/10 | Cam: 8/10 | Jared: 8/10 | Enth: 7.5/10

DeVán: 7.4/10 | Pax: 7.3/10 | Hadley: 6.5/10 | Peter: 6.5/10


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