Review Summary: I've tried. God knows that I've tried.
That part in “Vices,” when the album slugs you in the face after forcing you to strain your ears and think ‘Dear God, what is this bullshit
?’: that’s it. Daisy
is broken and Daisy
is violent. It is not romantic and it is not particularly deep. It’s this writhing, bitter little record, obsessed with mortality as if the thing were breathing down its neck. Death is all over Daisy
, and not in the contemplative way it appeared on Devil and God
, as a little girl from a headline or as an afterthought in the subconscious of “Handcuffs.” It’s too immediate here. The stakes are higher. There are no qualifiers, no questions. Nothing heady. Just maudlin absolutes, delivered in an aggressive, vilely folksy twang, occasionally screamed like its deliverer’s intestines are being torn from his stomach. And still, having adopted this guttural, fu
ck-it demeanor, Daisy
sounds alive, like Brand New out of their skulls and indulging in what’s visceral rather than existential.
Perhaps that’s why it was black-sheeped upon arrival. Its insight is bleaker than the lovesick albums from the Brand New we grew up with. But Daisy
aged beautifully. It’s fascinating; Devil and God
is certainly their most accomplished work, but it’s this
, this dirty thing that endures. Not because it’s a particularly “artful” record; it’s a little too combative for that. What it is
is a lyrical goldmine, but even then in a blunt, not always poetic way. “You wanna sink so I’m gonna let you.” “It feels like I’m jumping towards a train.” “I’ll carry this box to its proper place, lower it down, and let you fade away.” Simple sentiments sold by the record’s disposition, obvious metaphors delivered with no trickery. Cryptic symbolism and character avatars, hitherto trademarks of Brand New’s metaphoric loft, simply aren’t a part of Daisy
It’s a sign of maturity. What’s thrilling about Daisy
is that whereas Devil and God
has a tendency to get opaque, Daisy
has no qualms about its conceit. The band’s caustic wit survives through to Daisy
, but their self-loathing does not, and in its place is a desperate, stylized rage. The general “You” that’s drawn Brand New’s ire for three albums is here viciously torn apart. This isn’t a new thing; vitriolic anger can be found across Brand New’s catalogue. What separates Daisy
is that Daisy
shows no remorse for being what it is. It is without an introspective counterpoint to win you over to Jesse Lacey’s side. It has no “Jesus.” And without guilt or caution, the record has very little baggage. As a result, Daisy
is very much in the now, out of romanticism and into reality, constantly in overdrive.
The anomaly, of course, is the infamous chopped-vocal interlude “Be Gone.” Daisy
is not perfect. It has its stumbles and its dings. But perfection isn’t its objective. “Be Gone” is the one moment of Daisy
where the record pauses, bridging the downward bend of “You Stole” with the record’s crushing finish. And in the spirit of Daisy
, it is ugly, unsettling, and yes, unpleasant. That’s the record’s design; it’s warts-and-all. In a way, it’s endearing. “Bed,” maybe “In a Jar,” and half of “You Stole” kind of suck, and Brand New might even know it. How else to explain how vital these tracks are to the record’s continuity? Versus the record’s real meat, here defined as “Bought a Bride,” “Daisy,” “Noro,” “Vices,” “Gasoline,” “Sink,” and “At the Bottom,” these songs deliver a shift in tone necessary to highlight Daisy
’s climaxes. This isn’t apologist; listen to the way the album just drops from “Vices” to the midtempo monotony of “Bed.” It’s jarring, but it’s a crucial reprieve from “Vices’” intensity, revisited at “At the Bottom” and “Gasoline.” Similarly, the break from the hookless chorus of “In a Jar” to the single string introducing “Noro” knocks the listener from glazed to engaged with the album’s stunning finale. It’s a move that’s Daisy
specific; on no other Brand New album are the clunkers- existent on every one of their albums, let’s admit it- this important.
One can say a lot about what’s “wrong” with Daisy
, but there’s also a lot to be said about what’s “right” with Daisy
, and the struggle gives this thing life. Its highs- take your pick, there are about fifteen of them- are stratospheric. Its flaws, in character and occasionally in construction, they’re the point. In that way, there’s something human about it. It speaks to a different mindset, one that’s fractured, bitter, jaded by experience, willing to attack heartbreak with venom. It’s why Daisy
survives, even as the monolithic Devil and God
starts fading into a memory. Its scars lend it soul. To be able to see those scars on display reflected back to us with pride, without regret: that’s it. Oh man, is that it.