American rockers Brand New have been around for years and they are brilliant. Now, before you say ‘Sorry, do you mean that awful Emo band who sang that one whiny song about quiet things’, I would like to prove that the group is actually one of the most experimental and daring musical forces of recent years. With one look through their career, one can immediately see that Brand New are far more than the stroppy, Bieber-fringed twats the media would have you think they are.
First up is 2001 debut Your Favourite Weapon, an album that draws heavily from the pop-punk zeitgeist of the time. Opener ‘The Shower Scene’ and ‘Jude Law and a Semester Abroad’ are good examples of the days when a song’s powerful chords and lyrics about shit girlfriends would feature on the American Pie soundtrack and become huge. However, tracks like ‘Soco Amaretto Lime’ are what make Your Favourite Weapon better than your standard masturbation-era Green Day album. The song’s central lament of “I’m gonna stay 18 forever” evokes the youthful themes of the aforementioned songs, but the tender acoustic presentation and haunting accusation that “you’re just jealous cos we’re young and in love” casually inject a spirit that show that the band are not cut from the same pigeon-holed cloth that formed Bowling for Soup and Sum 41.
It was not until 2003 with the release of Deja Entendu that the band really came into the public eye. Deja is the definitive emo album; but emo hasn’t been lame for years so its fine to like it now, and why wouldn’t you like an album with the balls to call a song ‘Good to Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Have to Do Is Die’. Deja Entendu refuses to drop the ball at any time, for example ‘Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades’ manages to carefully ensnare its listeners with it’s seductive whispers regarding a girl that was “probably only looking for sex” only to wrong foot them completely with it’s massive chorus of “die young and save yourself!” Following this are the equally bitter but fantastic ‘I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spinning Light’ and ‘Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t’.
It would be rude to talk about Deja Entendu without mentioning ‘The Quiet Things that No One Ever Knows’, the defining track of the band’s career and of emo music in general. Yes, its over the top and features Linkin Park-esque middle-class suburban teenage angst; but once you let your guard of cynicism down, its impossible to deny that this track is brilliant.
In 2006 came the band’s third album The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, and this is where things really got interesting. From the religiously-themed and twangy ‘Jesus Christ’ to the anthemic ‘Not The Sun’, the band clearly threw everything they had into this collection and came up with an entirely new sound. The two tracks that stand out the most are ‘Degausser’ and ‘Archers’, the former juxtaposing loosely jamming guitars and breathy vocals with a full-blown chorus that one cannot possibly deny being moved by, while the latter shows a more positive tone for the band, providing uplifting hooks throughout, proving that Brand New can do more than moan!
2009 saw the release of Daisy, presently the band’s final release. Daisy takes the previous experimental nature one step further, featuring such strange quirks as operatic interludes and prolonged static buzzes at random points throughout it’s crazy duration. Daisy is an album best listened to as a whole; its songs complement each other and make more sense within their context within the album.
Despite working best as a whole, tracks still stand out. Second song ‘Bed’ features Lacey’s familiarly breathy vocals, but replaces the trademark power-packed chorus’s of previous albums with a more subtle and reserved centerpiece, the band here showing that they do not need to shout to inject emotion. Similarly, ‘At The Bottom’ illustrates another new side to the band with Lacey’s new found American twang, distorted guitars and incomprehensible vocals complementing each other brilliantly creating something beautifully strange.
When comparing Brand New’s debut album with their latest, what can be seen is a development in sound that can be boasted by very few, if any, other bands from recent years. The combination of the band’s ever-changing attitude towards music with their consistent high quality is the reason I believe it is a crime that they have been so dismissed. With such displays of diversity, one can only imagine where the band will go next, and with no announcements for an upcoming album, it doesn’t look like we’ll be finding out for a while. But for the time being, what Brand New have created is undeniably more than enough to warrant a listen.