Review Summary: Now I've mastered the art,
of the open casket prayer and the singing guitar,
and I've found the rewards weren't half what I'd hoped for.
After the release of Deja Entendu, Brand New had a lot to prove. The difference between their first and sophomore efforts was stunning, considering both albums were pinnacles of their respective genres. Through rigorous touring, Jesse Lacey and company had crafted an amazing album that would meet the expectations of their adoring fan(boy)s. Everyone knows what happened next; the tapes were stolen, Lacey got depressed, they had to write a new album which turned into a modern classic. Overall we're lucky that that happened, because we've got some amazing material on both, and two full albums to enjoy.
When listening to The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, the difference between it and Deja Entendu is distinct; the lyrics are much darker and more subdued, and less teenager inclined. FOYD is the bridge between the two. The lyrics are dark in songs like "Cleanser (Untitled 05)", descriptive (Untitled 06), and some are more like Deja Entendu's adolescent storytelling, like "Brothers (Untitled 03)" and "Untitled 01).
There are some stunning lyrics on this album, like in any middle-age (DE-TDAGARIM) Brand New album. Cleanser is some of Brand New's most inspired work, with gems like:
"The best best best best plans of both mice and men can go terribly wrong
And probably will, so please
Nobody speaks, nobody get any smart ideas
If we don't have any heroics we may just get out of here"
The desperate mood carries on throughout the "album", foreshadowing the all-out darkness of Devil and God. Brand New took the time to try out some new sounds on this album as well. Untitled 01 sounds like it wouldn't be amiss as a modern hymn. Untitled 02 sounds so much like a Morrissey song that the execution is ingenious. The entire thing is a pleasure to listen to because some of the lyrics are so bizarrely eerie that it works. Jesse Lacey has definitely mastered the art of the "singing guitar". On Untitled 04 you get some techno that somehow manages to work, and Untitled 07 (later Fork and Knife) has an odd piano element to it.
If Fight Off Your Demons were released without any problems or leaking, I would have been happy with it as a sequel to Deja Entendu. The fact that Devil and God was written as a backup to it is nothing short of astounding. It's a great modern album that proves that Brand New has talent to spare.
-Softens the curb between DE and TDAGARIM
-Some really interesting sounds and lyrics
-Emotional Material that one can't find in TDAGARIM
-Some great guitar work by Vin
-Some of the techno is just out of place
-Not really much balance