Review Summary: A criminally underrated album by the Indie band whose lyrics every hipster teen posts as their facebook status.
Imagine being a heartbroken, lonely teenager and writing all your inner demons into lyrics. You have no intentions of fame, just a kid with a guitar and emotions to spill, but then suddenly your band is thrown to the forefront of modern Indie bands. After some time in the spotlight you just want to relax and be yourself, but now everyone is scrutinizing your every move, waiting for you to write your next magnum opus. Everyone expects every subsequent album to be amazing. They should be able to show your music to their friends and prove how profound their taste in music is. One sub par album and the fans will condemn you, their idol, forever. That is a tremendous amount of pressure, and I imagine that is what Jesse Lacey feels like nowadays.
Jesse Lacey's band Brand New is largely considered one of the greatest Indie bands currently in existence. Their first album "Your Favorite Weapon" was a fantastic pop punk album with heartbreaking, angst ridden lyrics that any teenager could relate to. However, they were written in a far more clever way than the average pop punk band. Then came "Deja Entendu", a brilliant album with similar concepts but even deeper lyrics, and a huge musical growth, moving away from typical pop punk. Three years later they release "The Devil and God Are Raging Inside of Me", which in this reviewer's humble opinion is one of the greatest albums of all time. Musically the album is brilliant; complex, atmospheric and almost completely absent their pop punk roots. The album features arguably some of the best lyrics ever written, going beyond relationships and talking about inner turmoil, self realization, life after death and even God himself. The album is full of intelligent metaphors, and redefines what alternative rock is truly capable of. Each album the band has released features some sort of growth, which is a great feat in of itself. However, it is also somewhat of a curse considering after an album as good as TDAGARIM....how are you supposed to follow that" Albums usually mirror the emotional state of the composers, and Jesse Lacey's is sure to have changed in three years...enter "Daisy."
This album is vastly different than their past albums, more so than words can describe, and many Brand New fans don't like it. It has been written off as a "disappointment", myself one of the condemners until I finally gave it a fair chance. Don't worry, this is not a sell out album. Far from it. The album is actually extreme in the other direction; the album is loud, heavy and unrelenting. Jesse does a lot of screaming in this album, and much of the music is almost post-hardcore in sound. This new direction did not get a great reaction from fans, but I think the harder sound shows that Lacey no longer cares so much what anyone else thinks about his work. He's going to vocalize what is on his mind and what he is feeling, and in this case screaming is the best way to do it.
What exactly the troubled frontman is thinking is another matter. The lyrics were not written by Lacey this time, but by guitarist Vin Accardi. It is still unclear why Lacey gave up the lyrical reins this time; maybe he wanted the band to work together as a unit more, or maybe he just got tired of all the pressure. Regardless, the lyrics do suffer a little this time. Vin is a capable lyricist, as shown in the beautiful "Handcuffs" off the prior album. Unfortunately, nothing on "Daisy" quite reaches that quality. There are some gems like "Some man died under the mountain just looking for gold, some die looking for a hand to hold" off of "At The Bottom". However, the same song also features the nonsensical line "Carry this box to its proper place, lower it down and let you fade away. I hope that you would do this for me." Accardi seems to be trying to be deep and metaphorical like Lacey, but the line holds no weight and makes little sense. Some lines are even downright bad, such as "My head is lit I don't ever want to go to bed...your hair is on fire." Maybe I'm missing some deeper philosophical meaning, but it just seems like a poor attempt at imagery. Luckily, the song "Bed", featuring the aforementioned line, is mostly saved by Jesse's return to his beautiful swooning voice and Vin's excellent guitar playing.
The album may falter lyrically, but everything else is in prime shape. Vin Accardi does not even come close to Lacey's lyrical prowess, but there is no denying his musicianship. The guitar work is far and away the best the band has done yet, featuring some great pounding riffs and a few impressive solos. Brian Lane has always been a great drummer and this is no different. Lane's drumming and drum fills on this album are his most technical performance yet. The bass isn't amazing, but it does its job well. Jesse Lacey has his best vocal performance yet on this album. As mentioned earlier many fans criticize his heavy use of screaming, which honestly isn't nearly as good as his crooning singing voice, but it is still emotional and shows the anger he may be feeling. The screaming also shows he can be a very diverse vocalist, and when he does return to singing it is even more beautiful and haunting than ever before. Despite the weak lyrics, Lacey's vocal performance evokes a raw emotional power in them, something any other vocalist may not be capable of. Basically even in weaker tracks there is something that elevates the song above average. Some songs are even incredible such as "At The Bottom", the title track and the musical masterpiece "Noro". The band sounds tighter than ever, and Jesse giving the lyrical power to Vin shows an even stronger bond in the band.
In the end, this is an amazing piece of work from an amazing band. Many fans fault it for not matching the quality of "The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me", but one would be crazy to expect anything to top one of the greatest albums of the last decade. An album is meant to be heard on its own merits, and in that mindset the album is an extremely enjoyable works of art. I can't help but think that all the naysayers would love this album if it was the first album this band recorded. The album is a great addition to the amazing lineup of albums by Brand New. I can't wait to see what Jesse Lacey and company will do next.