Discography Review – Brand New

The ability of a band to change over time and develop a unique style unto its self is how some judge a band’s greatness.  Brand New is a prime example of this. Formed in 2000, Brand New skyrocketed out of the New Jersey emo scene and into mainstream popularity. In the resulting years, they expanded to form an empirical fanbase.

Their first album, Your Favorite Weapon, released in 2001, was extremely pop-punk centric, bordering on emo core. The songs revolved around teenage relationships and the feelings associated with them. It was an extremely power-chord heavy, bitter album. There was a nice mix of teenage angst and upbeat anthems, but essentially it was a more primitive album compared to the rest of their discography. The highlight was definitely the song “Seventy Times 7”, which was reportedly written in response to Jesse Lacey’s former best friend, Taking Back Sunday’s John Nolan after he cheated with Lacey’s girlfriend. If angry teenage musing, like the repeated line of “This isn’t high school” from “Last Chance To Lose Your Keys”, isn’t your thing, then this album probably isn’t for you.

Almost immediately (and by immediately, I mean roughly two years later), Brand New experienced a stylistic change with the release of their second album. Deja Entendu is, in my personal opinion, an absolute masterpiece. The phrase is French for “already heard” which is ironic because it’s unlike anything I have ever heard before. The lyrics and sound both matured exponentially, as well as their song craft in general. Lacey shifts the focus from lamenting about his ex-girlfriend, on to more adult topics, such as his father’s illness. The album is saturated with resentment and anger and Lacey’s voice flowing seamlessly into their signature powerful choruses and ends with an almost unfathomable amount of passion. Even the slower acoustic songs hold an odd balance of hopefulness and despondency. The result is an album that is an overwhelming tempest of emotion.

Brand New's recent album cover art. Graphic from Alternative Press
Brand New’s recent album cover art. Graphic from Alternative Press

The release of The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Of Me marked their signing to a major label. This album came out roughly eight years ago and still remains one of the most passionate, antagonistic albums I have ever heard. Jesse Lacey seemed to write only to confront his personal demons. The popularity that ensued was a just a side effect. It’s rare to hear such a personal album in the mainstream music scene. However, this one did remarkably well. The band adapted again, moving from Deja Entendu’s modern rock noise to a harsher sound in order to reflect the content of the album. The album opens with “Sowing Season”, a song so polluted with melodic wails and raging guitars that it almost hurts just to hear it. The rest of the album is just as emotionally charged.

Daisy is their most recent album. It marks their transition from alternative rock into post-hardcore noise rock. While they have evolved and grown throughout their career, it’s nothing compared to the transition they make with their fourth studio album. It is absolutely the most polarizing album of their entire musical career. The album opens with “Vices”, which epitomizes the sound of the rest of the album as it opens almost gently with a quiet hymnal before devolving into absolute chaos. The rest of the album is no different. The first single “At The Bottom” includes Jesse Lacey shrieking, “Some men die under the mountain just looking for gold, some die looking for a hand to hold”, over the musical ruckus that is the guitar trio of Vincent Accardi, Lacey, and Derrick Sherman. Overall, this is the most eclectic collection of songs in Brand New’s entire discography. The entire album radiates loneliness, anguish, and an aura that will leave you emotionally exhausted.

One of the best things about a band that creates a completely unique album every time they release something new is the fact that there’s always something for everyone to enjoy. Brand New has announced that they won’t be around for much longer, but has also said they are working on new things. Lacey joked that they are going to try write about happier subjects but assured fans that that probably wouldn’t happen as they ‘do sad bastard quite well’. If anything, you can expect more musical genius from the band soon. They’re a good band to experiment with because while they do change their sound a lot, they do it extremely well. Happy listening.