Review Summary: Brand New pushes the envelope to the best of their ability in order to create a more sophisticated, evolved album.
After learning that pop-punk turned indie lover's best friend Brand New will soon be unveiling a new album, I really wanted to listen their past works again in order to familiarize myself with their progression so far as musicians. Much like Thrice, Brand New has remade themselves into something more of a progressive band than the every day new millenium punk band. While could be described as a regular pop-punk album, Brand New made a bold move two years on with Deja Entendu. Definitely not daring in anyway, Deja Entendu however, did put a unique energy into it's faster songs that stood out with lyrics and vocal stylizations that were far more advanced that the average group. The instrumentation on Deja Entendu showed a considerably advanced evolution of the band's song writing as well. Sadly after Deja Entendu was released Brand New didn't put out another release for three more years, and when they did come back they blew their fans minds either by infuriating them by their drastic change, or pleasantly surprising them.
The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (2006)
Ravaged, strung out, and torn are all emotions that Jesse Lacey exhibits throughout the album, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. Before, Jesse was able to get through albums with quiet, soft-spoken singing and yelled choruses, and it's somewhat still the same here. However, Jesse's vocal styles have evolved far much more than the progression from Your Favorite Weapon to Deja Entendu. He embodies far stronger emotions than on the last two records and belts out his innermost thoughts and feelings in many various ways. On this album Lacey is a lot more comparible to Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock than himself on Your Favorite Weapon, but he displays the vigorous power that Thrice's Dustin Kensrue masterfully yields.
Lacey's ability to transition from each part to a song has become scarily impressive. On "Not The Sun" Jesse whoops and hollars the chorus, but with the sudden change to the steady rythmic bridge seems like he's floating on clouds with his soothing voice. On "Jesus" the song is produced to be horribly, and at the same time, beautifully mellow. Jesse keeps up the his new Isaac inspired singing, but on this particular track sings such hugely compressed vocals that in one word to describe it, is depressing. He reaches the pinnacle by screaming near the end with, "We all got wooden nails and something something hate factories, we all got wooden nails and sleep inside this machine". When it seems like the song has ended with that final verse, "Jesus" reappears and for fifty more seconds, Brand New shows how much their song structures have evolved by letting the instruments finish the mood of the song and bow out gracefully.
The biggest and best thing about The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is how unbelievably depressing it is. It is not that it is depressing, but how damn good Brand New accomplishes at making a completely depressing album. Whether it's from true experiences, or not (which it has to be, the lyrics from "Degausser" at the very least shows how intense Jesse and the rest of Brand New must have agonized on this), the powerful emotion shown here will beat out nearly any other album with distraughtly philosophical emotions and lyrics. It's pretty clear that Brand New is actively evolving on purpose trying to find the nich that they will probably master.
So that means since they aren't done evolving then there has to be some faults to The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. Of course there are. For the most part, Brand New as a collective band, is very synched. However, there are times wheen it seems the band is wandering aimlessly with experimentation for the sake of experimenting. The distorted guitar (which is heavily present throughout other songs) on "Limousine (MS Rebridge)" is welcome near the last third of the song, but when it ends the song trailing after every other piece of the song is over, pointlessness seems to take over and ruins what could have been a perfect ending to the song, which actually contains some pretty creative guitar riffs. After everything fades it comes back and builds to a cresendo before become highly erratic, in both the riffing and a nails on a chalkboard kind of way.
The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is the type of album that needs to be heard straight through from beginning to end. The immense scope of unsettling, simply sad, emotion displayed throughout by Jesse and the rest of his band might make it seem a daunting task to even be able to do so, but is highly worth it. No longer a pop-punk band, but still not exactly an indie/alt band either despite a much bigger step in that direction, Brand New hasn't found it's place in the musical world, but when they do, they will be by themselves for a while...until the followers come to try to fit a shoe much bigger than what they have to fit it with.