Review Summary: Regardless of what anyone will tell you, this album is an undisputed masterpiece. It's a perfect microcosm of the teenage mind.
You want to know why I was so hard on The Devil and God and Daisy? Because they had to live up to this album. The poor things, they never stood a chance, really. This album took the pop-punk success of Your Favorite Weapon, mixed in a little Tell All Your Friends, and had sex with Through Being Cool to create something completely awesome: a dark soundscape, cataloging the dark thoughts of Jesse Lacey. From the opening of Tautou, you can feel Jesse's pain reach out and grab you. Sic Transit Gloria comes in after the haunting opening and shreds your ears out with Jesse's screams. THIS is how you write a good song about sex. It's direct, straightforward, but also a little bit cryptic. It keeps with the themes of saying what you want to say but not what people want to hear, a theme that continues throughout the duration of the entire album.
Vocally, Jesse Lacey has never sung better. He's screamed better, but never is he more focused and in tune than on here. The trading off he does with himself in The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows is brilliant, layering each trade off with a beautiful counter harmony to go along with his main vocal. And that guitar line. Oh the guitar in this album is perfect, from the muting chunks of Sic Transit Gloria to the pretty intro of the heretofore previously mentioned Quiet Things, to the sweet riff of Guernica. It all works like a charm. This is also the album where the drums feel the most realistic and actually attempt to make some cool beats, see also Guernica. Lyrically this is Jesse's best outing and there are some gems here, "Call me a safe bet, I'm betting I'm not", "My tongue's the only muscle on my body that's harder than my heart", and "Wasting words with lower cases and capitals" are all lyrical winners that the preceding albums would simply lack.
Although this album is filled with hidden gems, it DOES have one big negative to it: the production, and a little ending called Play Crack the Sky. The production is muddy and dirty and it doesn't fit the super poppy sheen of the songs and as for Play Crack the Sky, it's just a boring song. At least Handcuffs has some stuff going on, but this is just a typical acoustic song that you could find on absolutely any album, and it's one of my least favorite Brand New songs because of it. I also don't like how they left in Jesse getting up and walking away from the guitar, it really just drags the end of the album out. Despite that, the album is perfect, and really deserves a listen from any fan of pop punk or post-hardcore, as well as any fan who thinks Brand New's two newer albums are the end all be all of good Brand New.