By Charlie Manno | firstname.lastname@example.org
Excited does not begin to describe how I felt as I held the new Brand New album in my hands. Completely beside myself with pure joy? Yeah, that’s a little closer. The point is, I’d been waiting for Daisy ever since the last note of The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me finished its last echo around my skull. I sit back before I tear off the cellophane wrapping the CD case and marvel at the maturation of Brand New as a band.
Their first foray into the indie scene was with Your Favorite Weapon, and having listened to it many times over the last year, it definitely indicates that these boys from Long Island had a lot more to say than your average post-punk popsters. Through the somewhat prototypical songs about break-ups, make-ups, and all the other stuff that misguided scene kids write poetry about, there is a formidable band just finding its legs, getting ready to hit its stride and take off.
Their second release, Deja Entendu, was a far more mature and layered piece of work than Your Favorite Weapon. This was also the listeners first real taste of Jesse Lacey’s true lyrical talent, proving that the man is capable of absolute heroics. He poses real questions about relationships, finding one’s true self, religion, and the meaning of life, all without bogging the songs themselves down in heavy verbiage. He spits and rages at the frustrations of love in “Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades”, and assesses his sense of self in “Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don’t”. The entire record progresses like this without sounding contrived or overblown, so naturally the bar was set incredibly high for their next album.
The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me starts off with the darkly tinged tones of Jesse Lacey and an acoustic guitar on “Sowing Season (Yeah)”, and right away, it’s pretty easy to tell that this record is going to be a radical departure from the formula that made up Deja Entendu. Where the existential questions are disguised on Deja Entendu, they have nowhere to hide on any of these tracks. Jesse’s burning questions and deep fears are loud, they are in your face, they are painful, and they make his sentiments absolutely unstoppable. More heavily experimental than what the band had tried before, Devil and God finds Brand New being led into a darker place than ever before by Jesse’s lyrical muse. He speaks of hangmen, jilted saviors, cold, weary demons and futile prayers, all in a desperate, searching vocal style that suits the record perfectly.
All this culminates into what we’re here for, and what I set out to write about in the first place. Daisy, the fourth full-length album from indie stalwarts Brand New. The album starts off with a nearly operatic hymnal, the female vocalists lilting vocals contrasting with the literal explosion of guitar and drums that dominates the rest of “Vices.” Vin Accardi makes his presence known on this album, hacking and slashing his guitar. Jesse Lacey beats out chords like he hates them in some places, while in the softer moments, such as “Bed” and “You Stole” he seems to be striving to soothe and relax. Lacey’s vocal work is to be praised on this album, if there is another vocalist who can transfer from larynx-busting, throat-shredding howls of anguish to smooth, clean and clear crooning better than Jesse Lacey, I haven’t heard of him. If you are the stereotypical liberal arts student and therefore have insufficient funds to buy the album in its entirety, the essential tracks are still all of them. Seriously, go through the dryers for spare change, sell clothes, organs, siblings, figure something out. But if you feel as though you want to pick and choose, definitely put money towards “Vices,” “Bed,” “At The Bottom,” and “Gasoline.” Oh, and also check out “You Stole,” “Be Gone,” “Sink,” “Bought a Bride,” “Daisy,” “In a Jar” and “Noro,” too. That’s the entire track list, for those of you who didn’t see that coming a mile away.