Review Summary: Long awaited follow-up to Deja Entendu is darker, edgier, and damn right good on this Innerscope record debut.
It's matured. It's grown. It's art. It's finally here. Yes, after many delays and hardly a peep for 3 years, Brand New is back for their third, and most intense album to date. Avenging from the early days of their pop-punk roots, these Long Islanders want to be more than your average pop-punk group. Siting influences from many areas of different genres, Brand New has revolutionized their sound yet once again. But possibly could have waited too long to set forth this new darker sound.
Brand New got their start after a previous band faltered featuring vocalist/guitarist Jesse Lacey, drummer Brian Lane.and bassist Garrett Tierney. They formed a band themselves along with Vincent Accardi and settled with the name Brand New. After two demos, they've signed a deal with Triple Crown records to release their debut full length Your Favorite Weapon. The album was laced with 3 chords and lasting hooks. Since written as a teenager, Jesse openly described the album as "full of teenage angst." There after the band followed up Your Favorite Weapon with a great leap of departure with Deja Entendu, which the title is french for "already heard." The album featured a more polished, deeper in-depth style of song structures, with more than your average teenage angst album. It seems Jesse Lacey just isn't happy with what he's accomplished, being he labeled Deja Entendu as "rushed." Now that Mr. Perfectionist himself has spent the last 3 years compiling all of the band's potential onto 55 minutes of defining material, was the wait worth it?
Well to get it started off, this entire album has a dark tone, hencing the angsty album title "The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me." With such an angsty title, comes similar lyrics. But instead of teenage angst Jesse is writing about, he is now writing about what seems to be a spiritual/inside anxiety. As Jesse deals with his internal demons, he unleashes them into thought provoking poetry. This is notable on quite possibly one of the most beautifully written songs in the last 5 years Jesus Christ. This song is an open prayer about his struggles with the concept of what happens after death. More of with his imperfections on if he would be accepted in the afterlife. The writing is what separates Brand New from other Long Island acts such as Taking Back Sunday and Thursday, and Brand New just only raises the bar on here. Although the smirking irony that was present in Your Favorite Weapon and Deja Entendu is non existent, being it would make it accessible to take Brand New more serious. After all, Jesse was quoted to "rather have the Radiohead kind of success, than the Good Charlotte kind."
Ahh, taking another look at the title of the album, it is known that there is rage to be had. It seems through every aspect, Brand New incorporates a deeper listening experience, through layered instrumentals, the darker lyric tone, and Jesse's new found aggressive vocal styling. The major difference between Jesse on this album, than Deja Entendu and especially Your Favorite Weapon, is the intrusive vocals presented, as in he is unleashing his inner rage, hence the rage into the album title. His newer vocal style isn't too keen on the human ear. In fact, he screams out of tune, but fits the feel of the cd. Although when he sing's at a minimal level, he makes his best representation of a British man. I have always thought that the best songs sung, is the collaboration between both Jesse and Vincent Accardi. Vincent doesn't have a fluent singing voice either, but he makes his presence felt with high octave pitches. On here, he doesn't have to scream to get noticed, it's felt on Milestone, as he provides a nice touch during the entire chorus. He's noticeable during Jesus Christ as well at around the bridge, and screams dually with Jesse on You Won't Know.
Everybody like's layers. Lasagna is a good example, as well as our human skin. But layers of instrumental hooks in an organized matter could sometimes lead to failure. For the most part, this didn't occur. With Brand New, it shows an considerable increase of their musicianship, as the music is more complicated than on the simple minded Deja Entendu. I'm sure it is what the band has been working on, as the simple instrumentals were one of the biggest complaints on Deja Entendu. It works to an extent, as many of the guitars on here are similarly layered. Thick as a Frosty. Many of the softer guitar licks seems to be filler and lacks any real substance. Though during the slower moments gets boring, the intensity just makes up for it. The band is at their best when they play heavy instruments. Bassist Garrett Tierney doesn't make his presence known what so ever. Sure he has his moments here more than the previous two efforts, but overall is dead weight. As well as dealing with the drums, Brian doesn't do anything to stand out, all except for the track The Archer's Bows Are Broken, as he drives the song with a thunderous roll though out. Other than that, simple cymbal crashes and generic pounding.
Sure, this album has it's stand out tracks. Sowing Season at a first listen, can be confused for a song off of Deja Entendu, due to the formula induced on that record with the quiet verse/loud chorus. The indication that this is the brand new
Brand New is again, how aggressive it get's and the thick layered instrumentals brought in. You Won't Know is the closest song to pop punk they've used to play, but is arranged unlike typical songs in the pop punk genre. Kind of like a hardcore version of their former selves. Degausser stands as the song that will most likely gather in newer fans and a likely single choice. Showcases the more aggressive side of Jesse Lacey, even though he does have a lesser vague feminine name. One very broad approach to the instrumental Welcome To Bangkok, which is every bit as enjoyable as any other song on this cd. I do believe Jesse used the effect of screaming into his guitar pickups if you listen closely to the heavily distorted vocals. The stand out tracks are excellent, but one particular song is not fitting with the cd. Not The Sun basically is built off a failed hook around the chorus. It's upbeat on a rare level, and on that note doesn't fit with the rest of the tracks. Also the Untitled track isn't a well executed as Welcome To Bangkok.
To state the obvious and then my opinion, Brand New set out to improve on their favored cult album Deja Entendu in many ways, and succeeded in many of them. In other way is that Deja Entendu had a very enjoyable formula, thus I favor it more than I do this. The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me follows a certain theme of internal restlessness and darker tone. Jesse as already voiced his opinion on this, stating it feels "incomplete," mostly due to the demo leak earlier in 2006, which unleashed 9 unpolished tracks. Though few of them stayed and vastly improved, many of them were hidden away and may never see the light of day again. Who knows what this record would sound like if they wern't made public. Most fans of Deja Entendu won't have much problem getting into this, and has the power to drive in new fans. This is a new route for this Long Island quartet and will be interesting which way they turn from here.
The Sludge's Thumb Up's:
Sowing Season (Yeah)