"And he playin my song tryna decode... aint no need for the discussion"
Preface: this is the hardest, most daunting & nerve wracking review i've ever had the pleasure to write. It will be unconventional and subjective. Pray for me.
'Hypochondriac' - Brakence
Hyperpop/self proclaimed "glitch pop perfectionist" Brakence released his second studio album 'Hypochondriac" Friday December 9th 2022. The highly anticipated follow up to his critically acclaimed "Punk2" album, many die hard fans are asking the burning question: "can he top his previous masterpiece?" Many people (who are recently discovering Brakence) are asking the burning questions: "Who is this person & why does their music hit so hard?" "What genre is Brakence? Could this be the new definition of mainstream pop?" We hope to answer those questions and more in this exploration of Brakence's 'Hypochondriac.'
Before we dive into the album, let us take an extremely brief trip back in time to contextualize this current moment. The year is 2017. Now mainstream names, then "Soundcloud" artists such as Lil Uzi Vert, Daniel Cesar, XXXtentacion, Lil Peep etc were on the brink of stardom; shifting the definition of what "mainstream" success looked like and where exactly it could stem from. The internet shifted to people purposefully looking for up & coming artists online, and (after the music scene embraced many of these artists) the floodgates then opened for non-mainstream artists (who's consideration would usually be dismissed by casual music listeners). This paradigm shift is clear and the industry is clearly moving in new directions to satiate the new direction of public consideration/open mindedness to non-commercial sounding up & coming artists.
Fast forward to the end of 2019. The industry is moving as planned and then boom: 2020 comes around, the entire world is shaken by Covid and unforeseen quarantine safety mandates. Around this time, Brakence drops his debut studio album 'Punk2.' Seemingly at the perfect time as everyone who was ready for the highs of being outside during summertime, simply couldn't. As no shows or tours were happening, a huge spike in music streaming and discovery happened worldwide. While I wont take much time dissecting 'Punk2' (as this is a review of 'Hypochondriac') I will say that if for some reason you haven't heard it, stop reading this right now and go listen to it.
I will go as far as to say it was the most innovative multi-genre music project of that year and in that soundscape. I haven't been this impressed with a project of this style since Blackbear's 'Digital Druglord' (the project that would catapult Blackbear into mainstream success) and while I don't like comparing artists or their career trajectories/paths, seemingly this would be the project that could possibly do the same for Brakence. While the project was extremely successful in its own regards, it didn't reach the masses as much as I thought it would. I remember listening to it and thinking "this time next year Brakence will be the biggest artist in the world." That didn't happen, but the project did expand his fanbase with a bunch of extremely loyal new fans and followers; all jonesing for that next fix of music, anxious to see what direction it would lean in and if it could live up to the masterpiece that is 'Punk2.'
Instead of breaking this Album down track by track, lets instead look at the project as a whole and then dissect where why and how it is what it is.
I know it seems as if I use the word "masterpiece" lightly, but this album truly is the definition of the zenith of music. Overall, the combination of the substantiality of every single aspect of the music(from the lyrics, mixes, performance, production, to the innovative level of proficient genre blending, seemingly perfect transitions, the compositions, the relateability in juxtaposition to the societal "norm" of being an hyper-individualistic listener) everything aspect of this record feels so cataclysmically right. So many times throughout the record I think "nobody's ever done this as good as him" then when I look at how innovative it actually is the statement should be corrected to "nobody has ever done this." In a world where not much music has anything thats necessarily "new" musically, this album and artist actually does & its so refreshing to experience. Just one of many examples(anecdotally) of Brakence doing things musically that have never been done until now; The inclusion of a full fledged proficient math rock breakdown/bridge inside of a song based off of country/pop based melodic soundscapes on top of mixing in the granular synthesizers. Including elements of rap, rock, punk, indie, singer/songwriter, EDM, hyperpop, midwest emo, west coast rap beats and so much more.
I'm the kind of music consumer that completely understands that math rock or "midwest emo" or "open tuning guitar" based riffs being used within the hyperpop space is not something that is new or groundbreaking, but this album is so much more than that, if not the expansion of that sentiment brought to its peak in caliber. From topics ranging from the stigma of self-awareness of knowing that what he is doing is groundbreaking, to the complete release of ego, from the introspectiveness of morality and evolution to the mundane sentiments of scrolling on his phone; the lyrical dynamics of this album are a testament to the substantiality of the record. So often consumers subconsciously decide what we listen to based off if we relate to the lyrics, or not. I found that with this album, even though I personally didn't relate to every single word he said, I did to most, and the lyrical content I did relate to was so good, I was more than okay with it.
I could write for days and days and give example after example of how and why this album is amazing and dynamic and substantial, but (like most music I would consider "exemplary") its really something you have to experience for yourselves to understand and appreciate fully. The only reason I feel its 9.8 and not 10 is due to the length of the transitions(which is subjective).
Brakence is currently on a headlining tour in the US. We have been blessed with the opportunity(shoutout Danny) to photograph & review his upcoming show in Atlanta. Stay tuned for that coverage and check the dates below & catch the "Hypochondriac Tour" (with Jane Remover as support).
***NOTE*** some of these shows venues have been upgraded/may be sold out, please visit
his official website https://www.brakence.com/ for updated information and tickets.