Review Summary: What is beautiful to you?
One word comes to my mind as I’m listening to “Daisy”; the word “aesthetic”. Yeah, its obstinate hatred and its verily uncompromising manifestation doesn’t strike most as aesthetically pleasing; it’s actually known for being more akin to ugly. That’s where I think the beauty of this release lies, in its hostile outer shell. It sounds like a violent dispute between antagonist and protagonist. “Daisy’s” lyrical approach is simple yet hard-hitting; every line finds your emotional core in a way that is unsettling and on the other hand, welcomed with open arms. It’s truth in its most unforgiving and relentless form, and that is beautiful. Beautiful is the sound of a band coming to terms and ultimately growing up, ditching the glossy angst which defined their sound for the course of 3 releases. It’s beautiful in the sense that this album has an uncanny ability to make a listener feel; not just one certain emotion, but several. This LP is raw, beautiful emotion, wrapped in a package of bad temper and nights of lying on a mattress awake, consumed by insomnia. Brand New really hit a home run with this one.
Completely different from their prior releases, Brand New sound like a new band. Vocalist Jessie Lacey has dropped the poetic romanticism for no-chaser realism, and effectively so. This is kind of how I see “Vices”; a complete detachment from the past. Starting with an intentionally low volume sample of a woman singing, the band then butts in violently, throwing all the previous knowledge of poppy hooks and sugarcoated angst out of the window. Bone-dry production and aggressive instrumentation present the listener with the unfamiliar; Brand New playing something more hardcore oriented. The lyrics make this transition into realism official: “Those days are dead”. Indeed, they are.
The lyricism, as mentioned before, turned from metaphorical and angst-ridden to literal and fully grown. Don’t expect to hear lines like the “If it makes you less sad; I’ll move out of the state” or “when I disappear it is clear that I’m up to no good”. As stated before, “those days are dead”. The lyric sheets appear more closely held to Nirvana than Brand New during this LP. A myriad of lyrical themes are tackled throughout though they’re most effective when they use their cynicism. Lines like “living in a jar, think the lids the sky, you’re hoping for a savior on your cross outside” take aim at the naïve qualities of religion and other lines like “you wanna sink, so I'm gonna let you” express Lacey’s generally misanthropic feelings. This is a different lyrical style than what the fans are used to so, no doubt that when they hear the differences between this and their other releases there’s going to be some acceptance issues. No longer is there a pretty decoration on everything regarding the lyrics; these words come served raw and inexorable.
Moreover, the experimentation found on this release will definitely alienate some listeners as well as invite other eager individuals into the fan base. They’ve shifted styles on this one though you can still hear the signature facets of their sound in the nooks and crannies of it. Never would you hear any of these offerings on their other releases though. This is a band showing us the flipside of their sound; a side that doesn’t slide down the throat quite easily. Fans of post-hardcore will digest this without trouble but longtime fans of Brand New who have grown used to songs like “Luca” or “The Quiet Things…” will only take a tiny bit longer than others. The latter example will find this uncomfortable at first listen. It’s just like any garden variety experimental release; it’s not the band’s norm so you’ll have to listen to it more.
Ultimately, Brand New have challenged their fan base, and most have accepted this challenge. “Daisy” isn’t your typical Brand New album though I would say it’s one of their stronger releases emotionally. The sheer amounts of emotional hardship and tension on display with this release is astonishingly beautiful, even if it comes in an ugly package. The no frills, ugly aspect of the album ends up being the aesthetically pleasing part of it, ironically. This is beautiful to me for its struggle and its difficulty. What’s beautiful to you?