New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Review: ‘Blanket’ is a lukewarm embrace of Kevin Abstract’s new style

The former Brockhampton rapper attempts to find his voice and reinvent himself in his first solo album after Brockhampton disbanded.
Kevin Abstract’s album “Blanket” is his first solo album debut since departing from leading music group Brockhampton. (Courtesy photo by Pilot Lee)

After glimpses and teases during his live shows, Kevin Abstract released his first solo album since the disbanding of Brockhampton, an American hip hop boy band founded by Abstract, in 2022. “Blanket,” with 13 tracks and spanning around 40 minutes, showcases Abstract’s talents as a musician in a new form. 

Unlike Abstract’s last solo album “ARIZONA BABY”, a hip-hop R&B project similar to his work in Brockhampton, this latest release is a Lofi indie rock record. Putting his affinities for rap and R&B away to highlight the versatility of his talents should be applauded, but this experimentation largely falls flat compared to the artists’ previous work. 

With Abstract as its leader, Brockhampton has released 8 full-length studio albums to critical acclaim in the alternative hip-hop and pop music genre in the late 2010s. However, most of the songs on “Blanket” are sonically distant from Abstract’s previous work with the chart-topping rap group. Although its aesthetics and performances sound cohesive and pleasant enough on the surface, the album pales in comparison to other projects by his indie rock contemporaries. 

Many of the songs off the album, like the opener “When The Rope Post 2 Break,” have very promising build-ups and progressions. Grungy guitars and fuzzy instrumentals swell as the songs progress, but they simmer down to leave you where you started. Abstract’s vocals also fail to enhance the lackluster instrumentals. The second single on the album “What Should I Do?” sounds void of any genuine emotion or conviction behind the singing. The listener is left longing for more. 

There are songs like “The Greys” and “Mr. Edwards” that possess a sense of life in their production. The instrumentals and production work hand in hand to create a despondent atmosphere, albeit one whose presence is too few and far between to affect the overall album. “Madonna” gives the listener Abstract’s most convincing vocal performance. The songwriting seems to weave a story about a figure of importance that Abstract has to let go, a message that could be applied to Brockhampton itself and its members that Abstract has lost a connection with. 

It has become clear over the years just how much Brockhampton has meant to Abstract. While the final album from Brockhampton, “TM,” celebrated and reflected on each member’s time as part of a group, “Blanket” is more of a solo project about closing the curtains on Brockhampton. In a recent interview with Vulture, Abstract states that conversations about creating the final Brockhampton project were “easy because everyone was pretty much over it.” This feeling hits home throughout his entire new album as well. His delivery sounds monotonic throughout, and Abstract’s performance doesn’t seem to have evolved since leaving the group. 

All in all, Abstract’s “Blanket” has left too much to be desired. As the last track ended, the album fails in the sense that it is forgettable. The tracks all meshed together fairly well, but that double-edged sword worked against Abstract’s favor, causing the album to feel muddled and empty. That is not to say there is no room for improvement. It is not a far-fetched statement that Abstract has entered a stage of rebirth in his music career. 

Separated from Brockhampton, Abstract needs to look within his artistry and talents to see where he wants to go as a musician who isn’t tied down by the past. In that sense, “Blanket” does a good enough job of pushing Abstract in the right direction. Hopefully, this blanket can finally put Brockhampton to rest peacefully.

Contact Alan Zhang at [email protected].

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