Review Summary: No words can describe the scope, significance and personal meaning of this album, even thirteen years after its release.
The first time I listened to this album, I was on an airplane. A spring break vacation a week or so after my high school hockey team had won back to back state championships. I had no business listening to that album then, I was all for catchy pop-punk and hooks and had only recently been introduced to rock music that was outside of the mainstream. See, I grew up listening to country music, Alan Jackson, George Strait, Garth Brooks, and Brad Paisley, artists who I still love today. I absolutely love country music, surely an unpopular opinion these days, but whatever. Rock music wasn`t really present and the only real experience I had with it was bands like Bon Jovi and Journey. Needless to say, I ventured into the world of rock and alternative on my own not knowing where to go or even what to look for the fall of my Junior year of high school. I was really interested in catchy, sing along choruses that represented my “angst” or whatever it was. To this day, I can`t really tell you what it was that got me to stray into rock music and not into the pop or rap music that everyone around me was immersed in. Maybe it was for sweet guitar work and deeper lyrics, but eventually this progression led me to where I am today. That spring, I discovered Brand New, and had no idea who they were or even wha their sound was. I listened to their highest rated song on Itunes, “Jesus,” and didn`t care for the song. I wanted something loud that I could sing along with. Later on, I gave them another try, but starting with Deja Entendu, and finding the more mainstream oriented sound that I had been looking for. I really enjoyed it, so I decided to give Devil and God another chance. Boy am I glad.
While on that plane the only song I truly remember hearing for the first time was “Not the Sun,” oddly enough it was the most accessible track on the album. I kept going back to that song on the trip, along with looking up many of the lyrics to the album and realizing that “Jesus,” contained lyrical themes that I was very familiar. Growing up a Christian, I struggled with doubt, especially in the realm of faith and in Jesus especially. I stayed the course and now see that song as a depiction of where I was though I still struggle with doubts. Whereas Jesse Lacey and Brand New may not have held on to their faith, it has been the one constant in my life and I see “Jesus”, and honestly, just about every track on the album as relatable songs that showed me I wasn`t the only one who ever struggled in my faith. This album was absolutely a grower for me, as it took time to adjust from the country and straight- laced rock music that I had previously listened to. On this album, Brand New really lets loose and makes music that isn`t about winning a Grammy or selling out massive arenas. They make music that reflects their lives and the things that are going on in them at a particular juncture. By reading into the history of the band and what was going on during all of their lives at this period, it was easy to see how an album like came about. Never before had I heard some yell with as much passion or despair as Jesse does on “You Won`t Know,” nor have I been so shocked while listening to music when at the end of “Luca,” Vincent Accardi lets loose on a guitar solo that does not go in line with the entirety of the previous 4 minutes in any way whatsoever, while Jesse maniacally shouts "Where you been." While not as harsh, disjointed, or abrasive as Daisy, which is a masterpiece in its own right, this album hits you harder on an emotional and even intellectual level. Especially as a Christian, the lyrics make me sit and contemplate my faith, and evaluate the way I see things. Not at all in a heretical way, as I am a proud believer, and can even attest that my convictions about Christ are strengthened even more now than before I first listened to this record. Ultimately, as I stated before, this record shows that the Christian walk is not easy and is in fact a struggle, one that often isn`t mentioned by preachers of the “prosperity gospel.” Everything about this album is great, it sits on a pedestal (like pretty much all of their discography) upon which I now judge most of the rock and alternative music that I listen too. I could go on and on about each specific track, as they are all great in their own right, certain instrumental portions that are spot on, as all four members of the band all have different highlights on the album and so on and so forth, but I think I will leave you with my two favorite quotes from this record.
“Jesus Christ I`m alone again, so what did you do those three days you were dead, cause this problems’ gonna last more than the weekend.”
“And in the choir, I saw our sad Messiah, He was bored and tired of my laments. Said “I`ll die for you one time, but never again.”
This album may not be your style of music, it wasn`t mine and to some degree it still isn`t, but it is quite possibly the greatest album I have ever heard, one that reflects on the spiritual warfare that is present in our lives, and an album demanding to be heard, sometimes shouted along too, and contemplated. Over and over again.