Review Summary: Brand New return to give us their darkest effort yet.
Prior to getting into the actual review of this one, I feel like I need to preface it with this.... The more I float around the interweb, it seems like people are very divided on what they think about Brand New as a band. It's not so much a "love it or hate it" thing as it is a you either kind of like it or you are in love with it. When I say love, you love it in the deepest, most real way possible. I know that comes across as cheesy, but for my fellow Brand New fans, they will understand. Everything this band has done, including and since Deja Entendu, has been golden in my book. The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me is my album of the decade. That's how much I love Brand New.... So if you aren't ready for the gushing of a fan boy, stop reading now.
Brand New reinvent themselves with every release but still manage to sound distinctly like Brand New every time. There are a lot of bands that try to change over the course of their career and a lot of them fail miserably. Not Brand New. From Deja Entendu to Devil & God Brand New has matured and became this dark, heavy band with very serious lyrics and the balance of quiet/loud that is handled perfectly. With the release of Daisy, Brand New has gone even further to the dark side with the lyrical themes (death, religion, being alone, etc.) and Jesse has turned into quite the screamer. Not like his screams of the past, more like the screams of a metalcore singer. I mean that in the nicest way, because I know metalcore isn't really a great genre in and of itself. But what Lacy has done with his vocals on this one is mix them up more than ever before. We have these tortured screams that go to softly sung lyrics. Jesse Lacy, like the band which he fronts, is diverse and never happy with the status quo.
The album begins with what I thought was a joke... A soft piano plays while this terrible, operatic singer goes on for about 30 seconds... Then it hits. Lacey turns the screams to level 10 and he rips through the song like he has never done before. The screaming is so hard, with the music, that's it's almost off-putting. The second this song finished, the first time I listened to it, I knew why they titled this album Daisy. They wanted to pick the softest name possible. A name that makes you think of puppy dogs in fields of daisies and dandelions while the sun shines down. Then you listen to the album and realize that this isn't a happy place. It's dark, heavy and at times depressing. While that might not get you to run out and buy this, I think that when a band can make you feel what they are feeling, whether that be happiness or depression, they have done their job. That's what Brand New has always done for me. When I listen to their music I feel like I am wherever they are, as stupid as that sounds.
After the shock that was the opening track we go to the softest track on the album, Bed. After two tracks I was confused and had no idea where this was going. A shredder for an opener and then a soft track that is almost too safely a Brand New track. Thankfully the album settles in after the first two tracks and it's brilliant throughout the remainder of the songs. The 3rd track is one we should all have heard by now, At The Bottom. This is one of my favorite songs on the album. Lacey uses a vocal style we haven't heard from him before and it works really well. It's reminiscent (read: copying) of Modest Mouse, but wearing your influences on your sleeve is OK sometimes. From there the album goes to track after track of greatness. Gasoline is another screamer which is fast paced and aggressive. After that, You Lied takes Brand New's practice of starting out really quiet and ending with something really heavy. When the heavy portion kicks in it does so in this somewhat subtle way. It smolders like a volcano ready to blow and after a few seconds it absolutely erupts. My favorite of the remaining tracks is In A Jar which reminds me of Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don't in that it alters between the light and heavy from verse to chorus brilliantly.
I'm not really sure where to put this release. Is it alternative rock? Is it post-hardcore? Do I care? The answer to that last question is, not really. It doesn't matter what hole you try to fit Brand New into, just know that whatever hole it is you use, they will be at the top. The only real negative I have on the album is that I want more by the time it wraps up. Coming in at just over 40 minutes it does feel kind of short, but my assumption will be that the band trimmed all of the fat and just gave us the meat.
I could go on and on, but I'll end it here. I don't think this one is going to convert people who have disliked or hated Brand New in the past. Even though it is a departure from their past, it's in a less commercial direction than bands usually go. The album is dark. There isn't a song here that's going to make you happy. That doesn't matter. It's good. Damn good. If you are looking for something that sounds unique in today's sterile soundscapes, Brand New is a pretty awesome choice