Review Summary: Brand New's most consistent? A great album, yet one that gets stale and old a little too quickly.
It takes only a day on Sputnik to find the mutually favoured band within the site. ‘Brand New,’ receives praise for nearly all of its releases, one that they have definitely earned. However, not every record lives up to its exaggerated standard. ‘Your Favourite Weapon,’ showed Brand New jump into the pop punk scene with an energetic burst, one that is mirrored by Taking Back Sunday with their debut. Music critiques were able to see through the intelligent lyrics and successful vocal melodies and identify one major flaw; shoddy song-writing. Unfortunately, the hyperbolic ‘progression’ Brand New supposedly had with their record ‘Deja Entendu’ isn’t entirely true. Although the advancement is definitely there, without Jesse Lacey, Brand New would be nothing but a deteriorating punk band with a short burst of success and fame.
The songs sound good. But they grow stale, very quickly. As the plays for the tracks off Deja Entendu rack up, so do many inevitable questions. ‘No way are they implementing that riff again
!"’ ‘This song structure seems awfully familiar…’ It is hard to try and escape the fact that although the album is performed with vigour and life, Brand New are merely doing what AC/DC have been doing for decades (although at a much higher efficiency) – creating entire albums with minimal variation. ‘Jaws Theme Swimming,’ ‘Me vs Maradona vs Elvis,’ and ‘I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin Light,’ are the worst offenders of this rather boring crime. Structurally and musically, this album is a sound definition for ‘simple.’ Certainly at times simplicity works, and by no means does it condemn this record the way it has to countless mainstream rock bands. It's this same simplicity that makes certain punk records so enjoyable. Unfortunately the original buzz recedes from this record after numerous listens, and the tracks inevitably become far less satisfying in a very short amount of time. Too short amount of time, for an album that is quite often dubbed as Brand New’s most consistent.
Jesse Lacey is a supreme vocalist and lyricist. He plants down his emo lines with blaring conviction, one that only grows old long after the rest of the record has. Although Lacey hasn’t quite peaked with his singing skill, it is apparent that he has truck-loads of potential. When his screams come into effect –although rare- like on the track ‘Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades,’ his vocal effort gives the song the invigoration it needs. However there is not enough of this raw work, it shows up far too inconsistently throughout the record. Although the rest of his ordinary vocals – like on ‘The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot,’ are quite appealing, it is when he takes that next step that shows him to be the superlative vocalist he is. These moments are scattered too far within the album to have the full effect. Vinnie has also improved as a handy backing vocalist, yet the melodies he performs with Lacey get used far too frequently within the album. They would be to greater benefit to be used in short, sharp bursts of pure energy like they are in ‘Guernica’.
The overall theme for this album is very dark and moody, best portrayed by ‘Me vs Maradona vs Elvis,’ a track about how someguest
uses drunk girls for sex. Although this topic seems to be more than anything, fun, the overall execution of this track conveys it to be a very melancholy matter indeed. The musicianship that is on display in this record is rather dull. The drums merely fill their purpose, rarely veering down a more adventurous avenue. The bass, unlike in most rock records, makes frequent appearances yet all it does is haunt the same few notes over and over again, until you realise its input may have been better just subtly effecting the album in the background. Everything relating to the guitar is vociferously modest. Finding an inventive guitar melody would be a near impossible task. The entire track of ‘Good to Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Need To Do Is Die,’ contains perhaps the best example of a guitar refrain, where Vince does his own thing on numerous occasions.
By no means is this a terrible record, those labels are reserved for extremely over-rated albums (insert various Metallica albums here.) Deja Entendu is exactly what Brand New needed, that vital stepping stone for them to create their masterpiece ‘The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me.’ Yet before too long, the spark that maintains itself through years of playing the Devil and God, burns out with Deja after a very brief period of time due to a severe lack of diversity.
My advice is listen to this album, then wait a month before you venture down the same path again. However this album will always continuously appeal itself to some.