Brand New released Your Favorite Weapon when I was in fifth grade, those dark days when Destiny’s Child’s, Usher’s, and Nelly’s latest albums were tops on my Christmas list. I had finally outgrown the likes of ‘N Sync, and the members of my cherished Backstreet Boys were either rehab-bound or antsy to begin their solo careers. I was a mere product of Top 40 radio and compulsive watching of TRL while pretending to study my spelling words and simple machines.
After releasing the album, Jesse Lacey and company traipsed around the country with bands like Taking Back Sunday and Finch. “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad” frequented the play lists on MTV2 and Fuse. I graduated D.A.R.E. and elementary school. Needless to say, we existed in two completely different spheres: Brand New in the pop-punk, angst-ridden world of broken relationships, me in the world of Lizzie McGuire and recreational league basketball on Saturday mornings.
Then came middle school.
Middle school: the cliched years of preteen misery, drama, and awkwardness. Disgusted by our vapid middle-school mixer-attending, overly short gym-shorts wearing, dyed-blonde classmates who spent their weekends loitering at movie theaters and living at the mall, my friends and I became the counterculture. We wore Chucks and listened to Zeppelin. We scoffed at the girls who wore Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch. We were so much more mature than our peers, even to the point that we blogged about it all daily on our Xangas.
In 8th grade, I found Brand New and fell in love. The two worlds finally collided. I invested in the back catalog, stumbled upon Your Favorite Weapon, and the world stopped turning. Jesse Lacey knew what I was going through. Jesse Lacey understood. From the first lines in “The Shower Scene” vividly and perfectly depicting the depth of young friendships (“It’s funny how your worst enemies always seem to turn out to be all of your best friend’s best friends”) to the anthem “Soco Amaretto Lime” hating the status quo and refusing to grow up (“We’ll never have to listen / to anyone about anything / cause it’s all been done and it’s all been said / we’re the coolest kids and we take what we can get”), Your Favorite Weapon was my life in album form.
The perfect blend of rapid, noisy guitars with pulsating percussion and Lacey’s signature shouting vocals made Brand New all the more lovable; I could blast “Sudden Death in Carolina” on the bus ride home on my Walkman and definitely turn some heads. It was more than that, though. The music was downright addictive. The songs were energetic, catchy, and entirely too relatable. The lyrics were completely honest, taking no tact into account when wishing ill upon those who had done wrong. “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad” and its tale of heartbreak reminded me that boys have feelings, too. “Mix Tape” was a testament to friends and love interests lost to the mainstream- and it taught me about The Smiths.. and Morrissey. I used “Last Chance to Lose Your Keys” as an excuse to not feel lame for being home on Saturday nights watching movies instead of going out.
Brand New was nothing original. Its stereotypical pop punk instrumentation and heart-on-its-sleeve cliched lyrics were nothing special. My friends and I knew that and did not care. As much as we tried, we were nothing original either. Your Favorite Weapon epitomized adolescence in the suburbs, a time full of angst and inner-turmoil when there are, in reality, no real problems. The album’s immaturity is what made it so attractive. Looking at it now, its simplicity and angst are almost comical.
The aforementioned angst and inner-turmoil slowly faded as I progressed through high school. I figured out who I was and ended up with my arsenal of indie’s finest filling up my iTunes. Brand New, Circa Survive, Thrice, mewithoutYou, and all of the other bands that made the early teens bearable were replaced by Stars, Beulah, and Arcade Fire, save Your Favorite Weapon, of course.
I loved Brand New for years and still consider The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me one of the best albums released in recent memory. It stung when I saw the band play on that tour and completely neglect Your Favorite Weapon, totally abandoning their roots. I vowed then that that was an offense I would never commit. Those twelve songs and just over forty minutes of undeniable greatness are a part of my past I will not let go. I finally turned 19, so I can’t exactly tout “Soco Amaretto Lime” with “I’m gonna stay 18 forever” as my life anthem anymore, but Your Favorite Weapon will always be a fun, nostalgic listen and a mainstay in my library.