Evolution is a natural and healthy thing for a band. It keeps them interesting and relevant, especially if they manage to grow with their fan base. Brand New has been pulling out all the stops since they first hit the Long Island emo-scene earlier in the decade. Since then, they have managed to grow up quite nicely, expanding their sound on each album, with 2006’s The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me being a pinnacle of sorts. With their latest, Daisy, the band has taken another step in their evolution, wrapping up all that we love about them in a gritty little package that’s just waiting to explode.
Their debut sound on 2001’s Your Favourite Weapon was only a base, almost juvenile when compared to the 2003 follow up, DéjÃ Entendu. Both of those however were a far cry from Devil and God, and now three years later we’re left with a melting pot of sorts that throws in heavy blues and country undertones. There are more slides and bends in the guitars, and more thump in the base. It’s the subtle addition of those elements that set the record apart, and really save it from becoming just another record in the “screamo pile.”
The new songs will take some time to get used to. It’s not as polished as past records, venturing into darker more abrasive territory. It’s thrown in your face from the very get go with the opening track “Vices” roaring into your ear drums. Right off, it’s a bit startling, but it sets the unapologetic tone for the record that refuses to let up from start to finish.
The tracks rarely top three and a half minutes, which end up giving off a more refined sound for the band. Unfortunately, what it also does is force them to lose some of what made them genuine. All the abrasiveness comes across as a bit fake, almost excessive at times, as if they are settling on a sound they know will just work. Record closer “Noro” feels more like filler, and “Vices”, while sleek, sounds beneath them, as if they opted for the easy way to shock and awe.
Songs like “At The Bottom” bring back some of what we love about this band, well rounded, and diverse tracks that continue to break their own mold. It also brings in some of the previous records’ signature religious themes, calling into question morality, death, and god. They tend to have a lot of those kinds of questions on their minds, and their music seems to be working well as an outlet for that. It all plays into that depth that they carry, being able to write songs that pour salt into any open wounds.
Heavy hitters like the dark and bluesy “Be Gone” slink into the country tinged roar of “Sink” and continue to set the band apart from their contemporaries, blending the old rock sounds into their own concoction. They even manage to dabble in the psychedelic with “In a Jar” managing to capture a little essence of Tool’s sludge.
What’s important is that the songs carry a richness that caters to their creativity. It’s as if they were turning up DéjÃ and honing it down to its most basic elements. Title track “Daisy” provides the record’s most vulnerable point, breaking out self-esteem building one-liners like, “I’m a sky that no one wants to fly in”. It starts slow, then hits with a thundering rhythm section, and signature layered vocals. And while “You Stole” sounds a bit familiar, it’s hands down one of the best tracks on the record — its echoes and ghostly reverberations hallmark another quintessential band moment.
Daisy pushes the band into a new light. In hindsight, it makes some sense as the logical next step. The record combines all the elements of the band’s past records that have made them so popular with an attempt at the brute force of their contemporaries. The problem is, we love Brand New because they stand so far apart from the others, and not because they provide the same old scream- alongs as the other post-punkers. Luckily, you can skip around those few songs for the ones that count. Those numbers that exhibit the best of the band, and remind you why you still love them. It’s not their best, but there are some definite moments that you just can’t turn down.
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