An orange haze settled over the lake one morning while I was at my family’s mountain cabin. It was approximately 5:30 a.m. and the wildlife had just begun to stir from the cold night prior to the sun’s timid arrival on the horizon. I was laying motionless on the couch in front of the glass door, peering out at the rough surface of the water while the beginning of ‘Tautou’ slowly began pounding in my left ear…almost as if to emphasize my internal anguish with every wave that came crashing into the rocky shoreline. I always hated family vacations at that age. Nobody likes being sixteen years old and being separated from having any contact with their friends for a whole week. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a good relationship with my family; because I did. It was just this sinking feeling that everyone else was moving on without me. Like somehow my time and physical separation was causing me to lose touch with my life. I purchased Deja Entendu
immediately before the start of my supposed “getaway”, and it was my introduction to Brand New. I didn’t know quite what to expect, but it was all I had in terms of an escape from my mom, dad, and brother as they constantly tried to coerce me into doing activities that I had no desire to be a part of. My love of nature, for some reason, was gone with my childhood. As I listened to my first ever Brand New album, I could literally feel the dynamics in my life shifting as questions arose in my mind…Will I always be alone?
…What am I doing with my life?
…Will I ever recapture the feeling of being a child again?
Little did I know that as I worked my way through Deja Entendu
, quickly becoming aware of my own maturity, that Brand New was doing the exact same thing.
This is an album that, in my opinion, is attached to my generation. It isn’t necessarily the best
technically, instrumentally, or anything like that – but it grew up with us. We could relate to the way that Lacey screamed “This is the reason you’re alone, this is the rise and the fall” at the end of ‘Tommy Gun.’ We understood the desperation in his voice and the subtle undertones of sexual frustration in ‘Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis.’ We were just beginning to see how brilliant the lyrics were to ‘Play Crack The Sky’, a song that simultaneously deals with love, death, and relationships on a singular metaphorical level. These emotions were new to us, and we had a feeling that they meant something to the man singing about them too. Brand New’s debut, Your Favorite Weapon
, was a regular exercise in pop-punk (and an excellent one at that), but Deja Entendu
revolutionized the band’s sound. No longer were they the binge-drinking, drama infatuated kiddos that made songs like ‘Failure By Design’ and ‘ Seventy Times 7.’ Along with their increased experience in life came more mature topics and a sound that mirrored it without losing any of the energy and sarcasm that made Your Favorite Weapon
such an eager listen. Evolving is always tricky, but in spite of the clear turmoil facing the band, they seemed to be handling it…which is something I admired, and tried to imitate as I came face to face with my own issues. More than anything, Deja Entendu
was something people my age could look to for comfort; a friend who could show us the way when we had nobody else to talk to.
Even outside of the life phase transitions that I associate this with, Deja Entendu
still retains qualities that continue to call to me in my adult life. The album was more than just an exodus from immaturity, it was an arrival at the complexities of adulthood. Just like any young adult blindly feeling his/her way about, Brand New was facing full-on maturity with nothing but a guess as to how to deal with it. The lyrical quotes, “die young and save yourself” and “is this the way a toy feels when its batteries run dry” suggest that Jesse Lacey was facing the crisis with just as many doubts as you or I would. Of course, ‘Play Crack The Sky’ is the ultimate example of the band’s development, complete with acoustic strumming mimicking ocean waves and reflective thoughts on love and mortality like “What they call love is a risk, cause you always get hit out of nowhere by some wave and end up on your own” and my personal favorite, “You know that you are not alone, need you like water in my lungs, this is the end.” Not only is it the best acoustic song in Brand New’s discography, but it may damn well be the best acoustic song of the last decade. As it closes out Deja Entendu
, it shows that Brand New’s transformation is complete, and invites you to join them.
As a whole, I think we are all aware that Deja Entendu
isn’t the most musically profound record of our generation. Hell, it isn’t even the best thing Brand New has done in that regard. But very few other albums have identified with us as well as this one. This album is equal parts music and companionship, and it refuses to leave you behind as you go from high school to college to your first job. At this point in my life, it is difficult to say if Deja Entendu
will always mean this much to me. As life presents me with new obstacles and different challenges befall me, I may find that I have outgrown it. But even if that is true, it helped me get to where I am now…and ultimately, where I will be if and when I get over Deja Entendu
. From that lonely morning at age sixteen all the way through my college graduation, I have continued to learn something new from it with each successive listen. For that reason alone, I will always look back and appreciate Deja Entendu
- the album that defined my transition to adulthood.