Review Summary: Brand New are so c-c-c-controversial, I’ll admit to the truth that they are the best at what they do... and part of what they do is polarise opinion and alienate fans. Guess what ‘Daisy’ looks set to do?
Brand New are a band that divide opinion like no other. On one hand they have a cult following who analyze every lyric, every aspect of their music and every word said to the press; on the other, there are those who loathe them - dismissing them as whiny “emo’s” who should “cheer the *** up”. And in between these schools of thought there are thousands of opinions ranging from love to hate. It could be argued that this has developed because they are an interesting band, but more likely it has happened because of the stylistical changes from album to album that have alienated some fans. ‘Your Favourite Weapon’ was a pop-punk album akin to fellow Long Islanders Taking Back Sunday; ‘Deja Entendu’ was a much more mature album, boasting more dynamic song writing; while their last album, ‘The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me’ was a dark and brooding mix of alt-rock and post-hardcore. Many of those who were fans of the band’s early days were sorely disappointed with the alterations that the band made while others grew with them – change divided opinion. Their new album, ‘Daisy’, looks set to do the same.
Basically, it has more in common with ‘The Devil And God...’ than ‘Deja...’ and ‘YFW’ but is still a completely different album. ‘Daisy’ is very much the sum of Brand New’s influences - on opener ‘Vices’
you can hear the squalling dissonance of The Jesus Lizard; ‘Bed’
would fit in brilliantly on Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’ album while the country tinged indie of ‘Be Gone’
recalls early Modest Mouse. Yet, while these contrasting influences could possibly sound like a horribly confused mess, Lacey & co rein them in sufficiently to create a very solid, coherent album. Though ‘Daisy’s influences are obvious, it still feels like a Brand New album. ‘Bed’ has Jesse’s brooding vocals; ‘In A Jar’
sees bassist Garrett Tierney play an understatedly excellent bass line while the quiet-loud dynamics of the epic ‘You Stole’
make it sound like a more progressive ‘Okay, I Believe You...’ from 2003’s ‘Deja Entendu’. On ‘Daisy’ Brand New take a step away from the alt-rock and post-hardcore of ‘The Devil and God...’ while still maintaining their own identity.
This retention of the band’s own modus operandi goes some way to making ‘Daisy’ so great. It may not be as good as some of their previous work, but given the vast range of opinion among Brand New’s fan base many may love the album even more than earlier albums; some may like it less. It feels like a natural step in the band’s career – musically, more mature and concise – and this is pleasing to hear. ‘Bought A Bride’
, one of the strongest on the album, sounds like a track from ‘TDAGARIM’, only condensed and wilder – not to mention sounding like the bastard child of Nirvana and Modest Mouse. It is an exciting track, given its explosive dynamics, powerhouse drumming from Brian Lane, cathartic guitar solos and strong compositional skills focusing on small, but dramatic changes. ‘In A Jar’ follows a similar pattern though is more lively and intense throughout, sounding like a ‘Bleach’-era Nirvana track. However, at times Brand New don’t get it exactly right – while the faux crescendos in ‘Gasoline’
are exciting at first, ultimately the track could have been so much more with a little more decisive direction. Generally speaking though, Brand New have created a very consistent, interesting album, musically, in ‘Daisy’.
On previous releases from Brand New a very important component has been Jesse Lacey’s thought-provoking, hard-hitting lyrics, yet on ‘Daisy’ they are not as crucial. Often they are rendered near inaudible under a wave of distortion or are screamed in such a manner that they become incomprehensible. At other times there is less emphasis placed on them because of the increased appeal of the musicianship – not that the band have suddenly become virtuosos or anything, only their ability to craft interesting instrumentals has increased exponentially. Still, as you would expect, there is some strong lyrical work on ‘Daisy’, with lead single ‘At The Bottom’
captivatingly addressing themes such as envy and regret(“I watched you throw away your bouquet/now I think about you everyday”) and love (“some men die under the mountain just looking for gold/some die looking for a hand to hold”). Overall the song is propelled by the lyrics – a rarity on ‘Daisy’ – and bares much resemblance to ‘Jesus Christ’ from ‘TDAGARIM’.
Interestingly though, a recurring (possible) theme on ‘Daisy’ is the break-up of the band. In recent interviews Lacey has claimed that the band is “dead”, and certain lyrics on the album would support this claim. On album opener ‘Vices’ he screams “those days are dead” – though this could be in reference to fans alienated by the band’s progression. More revealing however, are the lines “I want to burn down everything we begun/ I want to kill and eat my young” from album closer, ‘Noro’
. It could be that ‘Noro’ is the band’s ‘goodbye song’, and if it is, it’s a great way to sign off. It is an ominous track with its haunting chants of “I’m on my way to hell”, it is also one of the best songs the band has ever recorded – even though it faces some stiff competition.
Throughout their career Brand New have progressed through a series of styles and genres: from pop-punk to alt-rock to post-hardcore to the alt-rock and indie found on ‘Daisy’. By changing stylistically from album to album they have developed accordingly with a lot of fans’ musical tastes and so have retained their support. However, they have also alienated swathes of their fan base by diversifying their style. ‘Daisy’ looks set to continue this trend. Some will welcome the grunge and alt-rock found on the album, while others will not. With more emphasis on musicianship rather than lyrics, ‘Daisy’ is a solid, captivating record, decidedly different to their previous work, yet a natural enough progression.
*Brand New's new album 'Daisy' is streaming at http://www.myspace.com/brandnew *