Review Summary: Deja Entendu shows Brand New's growth as a band, and Jesse Lacey's progression as one of the most promising leadmen in alternative music.
All bands have a strong point. Whether it be their lyrics, musicianship, overall style, or just something as simple making catchy music -- There is always something a band succeeds at. In the case of the New York group, Brand New, it is their raw emotion. They combine heartfelt lyrics and the sincerely desperate vocals of Jesse Lacey to create a dark, grim attitude that is at full force on their sophomore effort, "Deja Entendu". Through twelve tracks of bleak, yet brilliantly catchy music we're taken on a ride through the mind of Brand New. From heartbreak to utter despair, we're given no defense or sugar-coating from the uncensored emotion pouring through the speakers.
It all begins with "Tautou", a simple song that is thick with angst and heartbreak. Lyrically speaking, it's rather straightforward, but with the soft guitar and drums underneath the first taste of Lacey's voice, it perfectly sets the mood for the rest of the record. From there we're burst into the next and catchiest song on the album, "Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades". The flow provided by the slick bass line and basic drum pattern keep the song running at a quick pace while Lacey concisely sings lyrics of sex and desperation. While the verses keep consistent with the smooth flow, the chorus blows up into shrieks and displays some of the emotion that will become a trademark of the record
The faster moving songs like "The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows" and "I Will Play The Game Beneath The Spin Light" are prime examples of how Brand New provide something truly unique here. They masterfully craft incredibly catchy songs while keeping consistent with their despair. I never thought misery could be so catchy, but there is something addictive about screaming the chorus to "The Quiet Things..." when you're seething. Jesse Lacey never fails to provide his raw shrieks and yells with just the perfect tinge of rage and gloom -- But this could also easily be one of the downfalls of the album. The formulaic style to songs like "Jaws Theme Swimming" and "Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis" can grow stale in a short time. They tend to follow the trend of starting at a creeping pace and exploding into loud bursts of Lacey's screams. It's repeated numerous times throughout the album and could have easily been its death had it not been for the strong lyrical content and great use of atmosphere.
The final two tracks of the record, "Good to Know That if I Ever Need Attention All I Have to Do Is Die" and "Play Crack The Sky" are the pinnacle of anguish on the record. Brand New proves that they have indeed transcended their rather immature debut album into a whole new area of excessively long song titles and expert song writing. "Good To Know..." is the longest track on the album, but doesn't lack substance like many lengthy songs do. The chorus is catchy, the lyrics are heartfelt and the music is a step up from the previous tracks with the wonderful guitar outro fading into the finale, "Play Crack The Sky". Lacey's vocals are at absolute perfection here and is accentuated by the slow rhythm of the acoustic guitar. The wonderful use of metaphors makes it one of the most lyrically impressive numbers, as well as possibly the best track on the album.
To go from a much more pop-punk sound on their debut record, "Your Favorite Weapon", to the depressed, sorrowful tone on "Deja Entendu" is one of the biggest musical leaps that a band could make. Brand New accomplished it seamlessly and earned a name for themselves in the music industry as well as developing an enormous fan base in the process, and rightfully so. "Deja" is an absolutely beautiful album in some parts, however formulaic it may become to a certain extent. To call it a masterpiece would be a stretch, but it is definitely a wonderful effort for a sophomore album. It doesn't surprise me in the slightest that they would move on to make one of the most well known albums in the genre . If "Your Favorite Weapon" was any sort of sign of what the band was capable of, then they blew that expectation out of the water.