Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Album Review: Brand New - The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me

A great thing when listening to music is to feel like you have a very deep and powerful connection with the artist. When you feel like you completely understand and can undeniably relate to the lyrics. When you are powerless against the hold the words and the music have over you. I can think of no band that I feel this with more than Brand New.
With a title such as ‘The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me’, it’s certain from the get-go that this album is about struggles and demons. About pain, a subject that Brand New have always specialised in. But as always with Brand New – it’s not that straight forward.
The album starts out with the song ‘Sowing Season (Yeah)’. Starting out with a bang, it is clear that the band are not letting up. Lyrics such as, ‘I was losing all my friends, was losing them to drinking and to driving. Was losing all my friends, but I got 'em back’, reveal just how truthful this album will be, much like anything Brand New do. The song is very expressive, Jesse Lacey writes, ‘I am on the mend, at least now I can say that I am trying, and I hope you will forget, the things I still lack. This shows Lacey’s fear that he will never be good enough. After this, you expect the song to continue with the sombre mood, but with the unpredictability that Brand New have become know for, the song soon shifts a gear into the chorus. Stretching out Jesse Lacey’s vocal chords and showing off Vinnie Accardi’s clever guitar skills and different textures, the song continues to be melodic and honest until the end. ‘Sowing Season (Yeah)’ proves to be a near-perfect opening track, setting the bar high.
Next you have ‘Millstone’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ – both equally superior and relaxing. ‘Millstone’ is a song that pretty much stays at the same tempo, but is a very potent song in the album. ‘Jesus Christ’ is very provocative. A song that slowly builds up; all the while being controlled perfectly with masterful musimanship.
‘Degausser’ is an excellent example of the band’s creativity. Lyrics, ‘Goodbye to sleep, I think this staying up is exactly what I need. Well take apart your head, take apart the counting, and the flock it has bred’, are some of the best on the album. The dark tone of the song creates an atmosphere not heard in any other band’s music. Multiple guitar tracks and coherent drumming back up a radically great vocal performance.
The next track, ‘Limousine’ is a song I could write a whole review solely based on. A song that was produced about the tragic death of seven-year-old Katie Lynn. A girl who was killed in a car accident when a drunken driver decided to drive on the wrong side of the road.
‘I saw our sad Messiah. He was bored and tired of my laments. He said, "I died for you one time, but never again’’. Perfectly shows why this track and the lyrics are so epic.
This song is not only the pinnacle of the album and of Jesse Lacey’s song writing, but also quite possibly the pinnacle of Brand New’s entire career. You can’t help but be held captive by this song. The lyrics are so passionate and heart braking that it’s hard to believe that anybody could create words so beautiful yet so devastating. With music that starts out very eerie and slow but proceeds to throw you into a controlled frenzy full of passion and thought-provoking lyrics and melodies. The distortion in parts of this track adds to the songs mysterious nature.

I'll never have to buy adjacent plots of earth
We'll never have to rot together underneath dirt,
I'll never have to lose my baby in the crowd
I should be laughing right now’

These words are repeated under the line’ Well I love you so much, but do me a favour baby and don’t reply. Cause I can dish it out, but I can't take it.’ Both of these sets of lyrics then epically lead you into an excessive guitar solo. If you only listen to one track on this album, make it Limousine. You will be deeply touched.
‘You Won’t Know’ is a very up-tempo song. With a dark guitar riff that makes the song all the more powerful. Jesse Lacey sounds like he is literally tearing out his vocal chords all the way through the song with on of the best vocal performances on the entire album. The musimanship on this song is at its best, delivered with flair and inventiveness. The song ends with the haunting words, ‘…and I can’t use the telephone to tell you that I’m dead and gone, so you won’t know…’
‘Not The Sun’ is a very diverse track for Brand New but equally great. The song is placed in just the right place on the album, keeping the excitement and producing some great up-tempo drumming. The song is in your face the whole way through and finished before you can realise what just happened.
After this, we are given a soothing song. ‘Luca’ is such a great and peaceful song that there are tow versions of it on the album the first slightly longer. The second version is the last track on the album and name ‘Luca (Reprisal Version). Both are memorable, with Jesse Lacey almost whispering the words. While the first version eventually boils over to create an amazing ending and one that will shock and startle the listener, the second, simply stays at the same pace and ends as it begins, tranquil and calm. Both show the band’s capability to create a tense build-up and release to a song. Honestly, does any band do it any better? I have yet to find one.
‘The Archer’s Bows Have Broken,’ is another example of an exciting and fast paced song. With a catchy chorus, it is the perfect lead on to the next track.
The song, ‘Handcuffs’ comes seemingly way out of left field. This song is very different. The band builds this song up but without resorting to aggression and/or distortion. The song is simply built up with remarkable vocal melodies and music.
The entire album itself is an emotional roller coaster. It takes you on a trip of ups and downs, through exciting energy and intense darkness. The mystery of Brand New will never be compromised. They are masters at what they do.
Jesse Lacey’s talent for writing lyrics has yet to be matched. He goes for the abstract rather than the obvious. He can tell you stories, can make you feel happy, can make you feel sad. Purely, his lyrics can simply make you feel.
But Brand New aren’t just about the lyrics. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no band has a better capability of building songs up and then either releasing them or bringing them back. The band’s vocal melodies are some of the best out there and the their unpredictable musimanship makes them stand out. They are different, passionate, creative and refreshing to listen to. Not driven by ego or money, they make music for the love of it. All of this makes them special in entirely their own way.
If you don’t understand Brand New and what they are all about by now, then you probably never will. Either way, it’s your loss.

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- Amy Parker

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