Brand New All The Way Down
I grew up with Brand New. Deja Entendu was the soundtrack to my childhood angst; The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me taught me to love large, expanding soundscapes; Daisy was my first foray into ostentatious noise. It seems there has been a Brand New record lurking around each milestone of my musical journey. That said, I was a bit skeptical of the band’s latest output. Releasing a 7″, a 10″, and an etched 12″ seemed to be too varying to ensure quality. But Brand New has figured it out. Taken individually, these songs display facets of the individual periods of Brand New, but, when taken together, they knot all the threads the Long Island band has spun throughout the years.
“I Am a Nightmare” successfully resurrects the directionless passion of You’re Favorite Weapon‘s stand out single, “Seventy Times 7.” The track has an incendiary pop punk riff that is thin and cutting. With a straightforward blast beat and humming bass, “I Am a Nightmare” coils religiously around its chorus, like most of the band’s first album. Yet, rather than devolve into past aesthetics, Brand New uses some tricks they picked up in the 15 years since their debut. Throwing subtle shades of feedback and abstracted lyrics against the energy and angst of the songs core to create something with more depth than the pop punk of their past. the song is housed as a 12″ single with its lyrics etched on side B.
“Mene”/”Out of Range” combines the speed-addled instrumentals of Deja Entendu‘s “Guernica” and the vocals of The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me‘s “Limousine.” The two songs meld the small intricacy and expanding aural cloud-ness of the best examples of Brand New’s middle aesthetic. While “Mene” is a wonderfully fast and sloppy example of the punkier aspects of the quartet’s sound, “Out of Range” continually blows me away. Jesse Lacey growls through his lyrics while swirling harmonies and picked patterns glimmering behind his baritone. “Out of Range” shows Lacey at his lyrical best (seriously the rhymes he pulls off are criminal), and backed by some of the most beautiful sounds, the track is a gem in Brand New’s discography.
Listening to “Brother’s Song,” it’s hard not to draw parallels between it and “Play Crack The Sky.” That said, while the latter preferred to stay within an acoustic pseudo-folk bubble, “Brother’s Song” has a rock undercurrent that gives it an edge. Transitioning from the first track to the second, 3 Demos Reworked opens its mouth to show Daisy at the back of its throat. “Missing You” burns with all the energy and noise of Daisy‘s best tracks. The song bounces between quiet grooves and noisy bursts to make it one of the most convincing Brand New tracks of recent memory.
While other bands that came of age with Brand New went for bigger, more elaborate structures, Brand New opted for interiority and rough quietness that has undoubtedly aged better than their peers. Their new single, 12″, and 10″ of demos shows the many facets of a band that defined high school/early college for a lot of sad teenagers in the middle aughts. While there isn’t a stand out track in these six songs, they all pack a wallop.