Review Summary: We prey as wolves among the sheep and slit the necks of soldiers while they sleep
There's a reason that the two groups of people I expose to this album have such different responses. This is a like it/hate it album, and as difficult as the people whose jaws drop whenever they hear St. Jesse's one liners or bridges (me included) find that, this album depends on circumstance, so trying to convince metalheads that Play Crack the Sky is the greatest acoustic-only song ever written will result in some snickers. The two people that I showed this album were very different. One of them was a Pink Floyd/Beatles-listening lazyass getting into hair-metal who never cared about anything in his entire life (and took great pride in that), and he hated it. The other was a disillusioned teenage girl, confused about how the romanticized and hyped summer vacation she was excited for could be and was falling so flat. The guy she liked was with someone else, and she was basically about to give up. Needless to say, Brand New clicked.
Many people here denounce the fans who loyaly stand up for Brand New when it's being technically taken apart. To a point, they're right. To them, Brand New is "entry-level over-rated alt", and when viewed technically, they might be right. But there's something that connects to the "fanboys" that revere Brand New. And its name is of course Jesse Lacey.
Jesse Lacey is the voice that all of these fans have with the talent that they don't. He creates such mind-numbingly brilliant hooks and lyrics and pounding choruses so that by the end of it you have two thoughts in your head: holy crap, and why couldn't I have written that. He makes it look so easy. Unlike other "voices of the teenage minds" he combines the thought and sincerity with eloquence and impressive writing ability to the point that by the end if it the listener is left wondering why more lyricists don't have the talent. Songs like Play Crack the Sky and Good to Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Have to Do Is Die are written so well with cohesive, strong metaphor that never falls apart that it's amazing that any band could write them, let alone a band whose first album was considered "able pop-punk". The few bad lyrics that are littered throughout this album either serve some purpose in the song or are sarcastic, and there are few enough of them that they become irrelevant overall, considering that Brand New's worst lyrics are better than most of their (at this point) peer's, such as Taking Back Sunday, best.
But what are the lyrics if they're not surrounded by music
that's as good? That's never really been a problem for Brand New, and that includes this album. Basic chord progressions (E-G-C in Tommy Gun and C-F in Me vs Maradona vs Elvis especially) are turned into compelling riffs, and when the hooks are amazing, they're mind-blowing. The opening of Quiet Things, the bridge of Sic Transit Gloria, the riff of Jaw Theme Swimming... I could go on and on. When this album is good it's overwhelmingly good, and when it isn't it's easy to overlook, because you know that they're going to throw a change-up at you (Tautou is the best example of this).
There's a million more things I could say about this album (brilliant production, a really great album cover, etc.) but all of those things go without saying after one or two listens. Brand New were lucky enough to catch lightning in a bottle twice, but they caught Deja Entendu with a much smaller one. This is as good as specifically teen-oriented alternative music get, and if you've held out on listening to this through the past seven years then you have to right now.
Everything except Tautou (unless you plan to listen to it front to back) and Me vs Maradona vs Elvis (because it takes to long to get to the point).
Final album rating: 4.85