On Brand New’s seminal second album, Deja Entendu, singer Jesse Lacey set his cards on the table on ‘Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t’: “I am heaven sent, don’t you dare forget, I am all you’ve ever wanted…”. On ‘Millstone’, taken from their new album The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me, Lacey seems to have fallen off his pedestal somewhat, declaring: “I used to be such a burning example, I used to be so original”. But if you’re thinking that means the band have lost their edge, turned into whining pussies or made a crap record, you couldn’t be further from the truth.
Brand New have perfected the quiet/loud dynamic on this record and album opener ‘Sowing Season’ is a perfect example of this: Lacey’s soft, mournful voice mumbles about insecurities amid subtle guitars until the chorus smashes into your brain with a hollering “Yeah!” (and not in a cheesy way, promise). And so begins an album full of delicate power and unrestrained release, leaving you barely a minute to breathe.
The Devil And God… is also an album of opposites and contradictions. ‘Millstone’’s opening lyrics may be full of despair and insecurity but the chorus is pure euphoria. ‘Jesus Christ’ may be a bit self-pitying on occasion, but the mournful guitar and steady drum beat show their softer side.
‘Degausser’ utilises what sounds like a choir of children singing dark, depressive lyrics (something you don’t get much in rock music these days, don’tcha think?!), and an awesome throat-shredding breakdown and terrifyingly loud overdriven guitars. The repeated refrain in ‘Limousine’ - “I love you so much, but do me a favour baby don’t reply, I can dish it out but I can’t take it” - brings new meaning to the word ‘tortured’, with Lacey at first softly pleading and ending up begging as though his world is crashing down around his ears, and the music reflects this – creepy muttered background vocals, huge cymbal crashes and guitar histrionics.
‘The Archers Bows Have Broken’ is a superb sing-along track, racing along at breakneck speed and leaving you fairly breathless by the end (especially if you’re singing along!), while ‘Handcuffs’ goes back to the softly, softly approach once again to dramatic effect, only really kicking in at around the two-and-a-half minute spot, with luscious strings and wailing vocals, before pairing down once again to a whisper.
The album’s not without is down points, though: the instrumental ‘Welcome To Bangkok’ is frustrating rather than enticing, and while ‘Not The Sun’ has terrific rollicking verses, the chorus makes it feel a little like the token ‘commercial’ song on the album. Overall though, this is a superb album, and each time you listen to it you’ll find something new to like.
_ Brand New tour the UK in February – click to their profile for dates.
8Claire Dupree's Score