Review Summary: Brand New’s talent for being innovative may be their best trait, and it shows yet again with their fourth studio album.
From “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad” to “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” to “Jesus”, it seemed quite possible that Brand New laid everything they had on the table. Hell, they had already produced three albums in three entirely different veins, and it would have been a fair assumption to think Daisy would either capitalize on the success of The Devil and God, or else mark a return to the ways of Deja Entendu. Instead, the new album takes the influences of all three previous LP’s and is able to make it…well, you guessed it…brand new.
Daisy as a whole takes on a much heavier grungy feel than any of Brand New’s previous efforts, with enough intermittent clean vocals and harmonies to maintain the band’s penchant for catchy hooks. This is something that isn’t apparent on the opening track, but it manages to be really interesting anyway. A sudden tempo change shifts the momentum of Daisy only 1:25 into the album and Jesse starts wildly screaming “We need Vices!” This track is fundamentally different from anything else on the album, with a structure that has been likened to “The Shower Scene” from Your Favorite Weapon. Nonetheless, it sets the tone for the intensity and chaos to follow.
Speaking of intensity, there is certainly no lack of it here. “Gasoline” thrives off of a pounding drum beat and Jesse’s screaming, until the song comes to a rather abrupt ending, giving way to distorted guitars and static. “Sink”, a clear highlight of Daisy, just might be the catchiest song. Like in “Vices”, the screaming alone manages to hold the listener’s attention and the addition of the cleaner vocal cuts and punchy verse lines puts this song over the top. “Bought a Bride” and “In a Jar” fit the bill as two heavier songs on the album, and they achieve this in a similar manner. Both begin on the relatively quiet side, before a cue of some sort (on 'Bought a Bride', a short guitar fill and on 'In a Jar', another short choir-like sampling) sends the songs soaring into a shrieking chorus. All of these tracks embody the true nature of Daisy; a loud, forceful explosion of colliding sounds and musical styles. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this is that they still manage to be dynamic and create a natural flow within the album.
One song, however, doesn’t seem to fit the flow. “Be Gone” is an odd musical experience featuring twangy guitars and a folkish atmosphere accompanied by broken, almost inaudible, vocals. It seems to be popularly regarded as the worst song on the album, but I still find it rather intriguing. While I am curious as to what it could have sounded like with clear vocals (I believe it would have been quite good), the mystifying nature of the song creates a moment that contributes to both the whole and the mysteriousness of Daisy. This is something that can’t really be measured by listening to the song in isolation, but instead requires complete focus and attention to the album’s atmosphere from start to finish.
The two slowest songs on Daisy are “Bed” and “You Stole”. Both of these are good in their own right, but they also expose one of the album’s greatest weaknesses. Amidst the carnage that is the grand majority of Daisy, it can be easy to overlook lyrics that definitely pale in comparison to any of their three previous efforts. The lyrics, which can range anywhere from sufficient to cringe-worthy, have no place to hide in these two otherwise accomplished ballads:
My head is lit I don’t ever want to go to bed
Your hair is on fire
Last night they said the fire had spread
And we said our prayers
And now the flames are burning me in my bed
But I just don't care
This would normally bring me to the question, “What is it with Brand New and beds?” But instead I think the bigger issue here is who is writing the words to these songs. Much has been made about how Jesse had a reduced role in the writing of the songs/lyrics on Daisy, and that alone may account for something of an explanation. With that said though, there are still certain songs such as “Daisy” and “Noro” that maintain the lofty lyrical standards we have all come to expect from Brand New. It’s just that most of the songs, as seen above, seem to lack in the inspiration department.
In the end, what we have is another experimental release from Brand New. While the lyrics may be generally sub par, the opposite is true for the music itself. It builds on the successful aspects of The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, but for the most part gives fans something they haven’t already heard before. Brand New’s talent for being innovative may be their best trait, and it shows yet again with their fourth studio album, one that is worthy of their accomplished catalog and is certainly among their best work to date.