Review Summary: Brand New shows everyone that they are here to stay with their best effort yet.
Intense. If I could describe this album in one word, that would be it. Incredible. That would be the second. After listening to Deja Entendu, I thought that Brand New had maxed out, that they couldn’t expand further. I thought that they could not produce anything better than that. Boy, was I wrong. This album makes Deja Entendu seem like child’s play, showing a newfound level of depth that we had yet to see from Brand New.
1. Sowing Season- This gets the album started off with a bang. A typical effort in the signature soft to loud Brand New style, this song doesn’t do much to warn you of the changes in sound to come in the album. It starts off with some soft acoustic playing and Jesse crooning, “Losing all my friends, losing them to drinking and to drugs,” The highlight of the song comes when the song comes down a bit after things get loud, with a nice drum part at the forefront and some soft guitars in the background. 4.5/5
2. Millstone- Sowing Season segues right into this song, which works quite well. There is nothing extraordinary about this song. The instrumentation in this song is really simple, allowing lyrics like, “I used to know the name of every person I kissed, now I made this bed and I can’t fall asleep in it” to take center stage. However, it is an above-average track thanks to it overall composition. Still, a weak point on the album. 3.7/5
3. Jesus Christ- This track is another soft song in the Brand New collection. However, in terms of soft tracks, it is the best one the band has ever released. It starts out with one, then two acoustic guitars that sound beautiful together. The notes are allowed to linger, which gives the song space that was not found in the previous two tracks. This song solidifies the fact that Brand New indeed believes in the beauty and importance for a softer track. 5/5
4. Degausser- This song is one of the many on this album that builds up beautifully. At first, it is almost inaudible, then a driving drum beat kicks in with some guitars. The chorus features Lacey screaming his lungs out. The highlight of the track is the bridge, which has a wonderful little bass part. This bass part shows the maturation of the band and the thought that was put into the album. Without it, the song would still be good. It can only be heard if you’re listening closely, but for me it makes the song. 4.5/5
5. Limousine- The longest song on the album, and also the best. A musical masterpiece containing multiple parts, its story starts with the lyrics. The song is written about the death of a 7 year old girl in a car crash. She was on her way to a wedding in a limo. The song is written from multiple perspectives of the crash, including the driver that hit the car, who was legally intoxicated. The song features multiple musical changes, the best being the “false” crescendo into a mellow section. At the end of the song, there’s about 75 seconds of guitar feedback, as if to tell the listener, “We know that these first five tracks are really intense and awesome, so here’s some time to catch you’re breath”. 5/5
6. You Won’t Know- This is easily another one of the highlights of this album. The song starts out with a soft, simple guitar part. Vocals, then drums slowly come in. A pause, then all hell breaks loose. The bridge is quite infectious and catchy and is the best part of the song, and the outro is basically the same as the intro, but you can hear the “space” noises which are in the next track. 5/5
7. Welcome to Bangkok- One of the two instrumental songs on the album. This is one of the songs that was written solely by Vin Accardi, the guitarist. Nothing really great about this track. It has another nice buildup that would probably sound more interesting if it wasn’t in an album full of songs with a nice buildup. Another weak point, but still above average. 3.5/5
8. Not the Sun- This, along with Archers, are the only two “immediate” tracks on the album. By immediate, I mean it doesn’t have a buildup, the song just gets right into it. It is a welcome break from the other type of song, and is just as good as the rest of the album. The bass-line in the beginning is a perfect transition coming from the previous track. This is easily the catchiest song on the album; it could fit right into Your Favorite Weapon. 4.5/5
9. Luca- After the last scream of Not the Sun, the mellow acoustic guitar that comes in is the best transition from one song to another in the entire album. The title of the song refers to a character from The godfather, Luca Brasi. Lyrically this is one of the best tracks on the album, with lines like, “Shimmering under a moon made in anger and angst, chimmering like a penny out of reach in a subway gate”. The bridge is incredibly soft, forcing the listener to ram up the volume, until Lacey starts screaming and our ears hurt. The outro is what makes this song, featuring yet another, albeit small, transition. 5/5
10. Untitled- The second instrumental track. This is instrumental, though there is a voice recording that cannot be understood. A necessary track after the wonderfully loud outro of Luca and going perfectly into the drumroll of Archers, but the song itself is pretty weak. The guitars are decent enough, reminiscent of “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd, but just not enough going on in the song to make it anything special. 2.5/5
11. Archers- The second immediate track. The song is quite good, with the guitar coming in softly at first and slowly increasing in volume. Although the song is immediate, it becomes more complex in the second verse. The drums get a little crazier and the guitar is louder and more intricate. Another strong track lyrically, including the best lyric in the entire album: “You’re shouting so loud you barely enjoy this broken thing, You’re a voice that never sings is what I say” 4.5/5
12. Handcuffs- The second soft track. What, you didn’t think just because this is the best album they’ve released, they’d change their ways and end the album with anything other than a soft beauty, did you? The lyrics for this track are written by guitarist Accardi, but clearly his songwriting was influenced heavily by Lacey, because there is no clear difference lyrically between this track and the others. “It’s hard to be a better man, when you forget you’re trying” could have easily come out of Lacey’s head as well. This track does actually involve instruments other than an acoustic guitar, but is still on the same level as the previous two album closers. 4.5/5
The album ends with a repetition, of sorts (2nd instrumental, 2nd immediate track, second soft track), but it doesn’t take anything away from the brilliance of the album. If anything, it adds to it, showing that they can produce two kinds of a track and make both wonderful, but different.
So what makes this album a 5? Only 1/3 of the songs are rated a 5. The answer is the flow of the album. When you listen to the album in its entirety, every musical change is brilliant. It's the overall composition that turns this album into a classic.
When I first saw the rating on sputnik for this album, I was reluctant to even try it, for I thought that it wasn’t possible that this album could be close to as good as Revolver by The Beatles. I thought that Sputnik was just madly in love with everything Brand New released. I was wrong. This album is undeniably a classic, and is the album that cements Brand New’s status as one of the best bands of the decade.