For the past few months, I have been trying to expand this website into the realm of album reviews, with the goal, to start, being to find one album each month that has stood out in a positive or negative way, or in a way that I felt it important enough to talk about. So, this month there were a few albums that were scheduled for a June release that peaked my eye. However, I didn’t end up loving one album in June, I ended up loving three very different, yet very equally great albums that all deserve to be talked about. So, in order of release date, here are three albums that were real highlights for me in the month of June.
“Saturation” by Brockhampton (released June 9)
Starting off this list is an album that may have flown under the radar, as Brockhampton isn’t yet a highlighted name in hip-hop, but they should be, and hopefully, they will be very soon. “Saturation” is a 17-track sophomore project created by the self-proclaimed “American Boyband” known as Brockhampton.
This group is home to various members, with the biggest names being Kevin Abstract and Dom McLennon, but other equally important members with vocal appearances include Matt Champion, Ameer Vann, Merlyn Wood, JOBA, and bearface., and these members have something more than almost any other music group out there has these days: chemistry.
Brockhampton works so well as a group because each member brings something new to the table, and it makes “Saturation” an album that consistently surprises while never becoming stale. Kevin Abstract does the majority of the choruses with consistently surprising vocals, while also showing a lot of range in some rap verses like in the song “Star”. JOBA brings some terrific vocals to a few tracks as well, and Ameer Vann, Dom McLennon, Matt Champion, and Merlyn Wood take most of the verses and really bring some excellent flows to this album.
There are so many highlight songs that I could mention from “Saturation”, as nearly every single song has a tremendous beat with real creative production and solid performances all-around. The opener, “Heat”, is one I find myself consistently going back to, as it is one of the hardest hitting songs on the album. Ameer Vann is the standout here for me, as his opening verse brings so much power and anger that I am immediately sucked into whatever Brockhampton plans on doing for the rest of the album.
I could say the same thing about “Gold”, which may be the most accessible song on the album, as it has this easy going feel to it while still having some terrific verses by Matt Champion, Vann, and Dom McLennon. “Star” is easily the funniest song on “Saturation”, with the verses simply using references to TV, film, and sports and making it something more than that with excellent line delivery. The highlight lyrics here are Ameer Vann’s use of Secret Agent Cody Banks, Dom McLennon’s “Anthony Hopkins I’m eating them raw”, and, of course, “I don’t fuck with no white boys, unless the nigga Shawn Mendes” via Kevin Abstract.
Softer tracks like “2Pac”, “Fake”, “Swim”, and “Face” work just as well as the banger songs like “Heat” and “Bump”, and that is what makes Brockhampton such a special group that should be considered a force to be reckoned with in years to come, especially since they claim to have a “Saturation II” coming very soon. Aside from a few moments of weaker lyrics, as well as the occasional overuse of autotune on songs like “Trip” and “Milk”, Brockhampton has managed to turn hip-hop on its head here, and I cannot wait to see what they have planned next.
“Melodrama” by Lorde (released June 16)
Moving from hip-hop to pop, we have Lorde’s stunning second album, “Melodrama”. Lorde came into the spotlight with her debut album, “Pure Heroine” back in 2013, an album she released when she was only 16 years old. Four years have passed since then, and the now 20-year-old Lorde has had this time to mature and build her sound even stronger from “Pure Heroine”, and that is exactly what she has done here on “Melodrama”.
Lorde has come together with 11 tracks that all are exquisitely written, well produced, beautifully performed, and that sounds cohesive as an overall project. While the album may not start off the strongest, the song “Green Light” is still a perfectly acceptable track, but it may be my least favorite song on the album, the large bulk of “Melodrama” is simply stunning to listen to.
“Homemade Dynamite” is one of my personal favorites, with the chorus of this track specifically standing out to me as a highlight moment on the album. The lyrics on this song discuss the feelings that one may have when they meet at a party and the sparks that fly right off the bat, and is one of numerous examples that shows Lorde as a master storyteller, with her lyrics being done so intricately and with such attention to detail that the songs just become this whole new layer of incredible the more you dive into what she is saying within the verses. This is also shown beautifully in “The Louvre” as well as “Liability”, as well as almost every single song on this album.
“Liability” is a special moment on this album, as the song lives and dies on Lorde’s vocal delivery and her lyrics, as she has only a piano to fall back on, and she makes the song one of the most heart-wrenching moments on the record. Hearing Lorde discuss how fame has made her someone that her friends can’t trust anymore is simply stunning and proves her true ability to make any song work with simply her own talents.
The “Liability (reprise)”, as well as “Sober II” are important to me because it shows Lorde treating the album as one solid, flowing work, and these two moments make the album feel even more cohesive than before, as they each add a little piece to the powerful themes of heartbreak and loss that Lorde so elegantly has with “Melodrama”.
“Writer in the Dark” is probably my favorite track on the record, as it holds so much weight and has Lorde’s most powerful vocal performance on the album, with her reaching into some higher notes when discussing her place as a singer and what it means to her after a breakup. The lyrics, simple instrumental, and intense delivery create an unforgettable track that will surely tug at the heartstrings of many.
Lorde has managed to make a pop album that lacks a truly weak moment and manages to have some of the strongest lyrics on any album that I have heard this year. To hear Lorde grow lyrically, sonically, and conceptually at the age of 20 to create this stunning work with very few flaws is something to behold, and something that I will keep coming back to throughout the year.
“Big Fish Theory” by Vince Staples (released June 23)
Finally, I have to move back to rap to discuss this new Vince Staples album, “Big Fish Theory”. The album is Vince’s third major project, with “Summertime ‘06” and the “Prima Donna” EP both being major hits with critics. This project, however, brings Vince to a completely different level, and solidifies him, in my eyes, as one of the strongest rappers making music today.
“Big Fish Theory” has Vince Staples using some of the strangest instrumentals you will hear this year, and nearly every single one of them works excellently to bring out Vince’s verses while still creating a completely original sound. Vince has always been a unique voice in the rap game, but this album is really the one that totally sold me on his ability as a rapper.
Take the opening track, “Crabs in a Bucket”, which starts the album with some lovely background noises and a spacey beat, which leads into Vince going strong into his verses, which also hold strong lyrics about race and moving up from the bottom. the title is one that caught my eye, and it seems to be about crabs that all work to get out of the bucket by toppling over each other, which of course has zero success, and Vince uses this idea and brings it into themes of race and his own experience, which is just one of many incredibly strong lyrical moments that this album has to offer.
“Big Fish” is another standout track for its insane instrumental, extremely catchy Juicy J hook, and Vince’s tremendous lyrics about success and being the big fish in a crowded pond. This “Big Fish Theory” that encapsulates the entire record seems to be about a fish who has outgrown his bowl and must move to the ocean where he faces bigger fish, as well as sharks and others out to get him. Vince uses this awesome concept with his own life and his struggles to move on from his past in California, and it works the strongest in the lyrics on this song.
“745” is one of the catchiest songs on the album, while also having one of the most insane, hard-hitting beats to go with it. Vince really brings the flow on his verses here, but he brings it even harder on the track that pretty much proceeds it, “Yeah Right”. This is one of the best songs of the year to date, as the chorus, while simple, is a total banger, and Vince brings it with some incredible bars about rappers lying in their lyrics and then going on this tangent about pretty women, and it leads to this incredible transition mid-song that leads to the highlight moment on the album: a surprise feature from Kung Fu Kenny himself, Kendrick Lamar. KDot proceeds to light the world on fire in this verse, as he nails the feel of the song and has one of his strongest guest appearances of his entire career.
“Homage” is another very solid moment on the album, with Vince showing his ability to have a great flow over any beat, no matter how insane it is. “BagBak” is one of my favorites on the album, as the beat is crazy, Vince’s flow and style works excellently along the chorus and production, and his lyrics on numerous political issues work terrifically with the insane feel of the whole song.
What Vince Staples manages to do here with “Big Fish Theory” is make a totally brand new sound that is unlike much of anything in music right now, and he does it his own way while having terrific lyrics, a strong overall concept, and an excellent flow. I’m not crazy about the interlude featuring an Amy Winehouse interview, or the closer, “Rain Come Down” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, but even with a few minor hiccups, Vince Staples proves himself as one of the most original artists around today, and one that will be on my radar for years to come.
Did you like these albums? Which of these three albums was your favorite? Comment below with your thoughts.