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Review: Brand New Bids Farewell With Final Album

The long awaited fifth album from Long Island quartet Brand New delivers what fans have been waiting for, while simultaneously breaking their hearts

By Jessie Harris

It’s been eight long years, but we finally have in our hands a new album from Brand New. With the mid-August announcement of new music and tour dates, fans have once again been soaking up all of the lyrical magic of Jesse Lacey and the artistic rock they have come to appreciate over the last decade. The band hasn’t released a full-length record since 2009’s Daisy, but their legacy hasn’t diminished in their absence. With a couple of demos and singles released over the years, and tour dates still in rotation, the band’s following has continued to increase. Since their chart-topping hit “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” in 2003, the emo music scene as we know it has been forever changed.

Science Fiction delivers those nostalgic vibes we’ve all craved, borrowing sounds familiar to The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, but with a new edginess that leaves one wanting more. The band has made it known that this is their last effort and final studio album, which only adds to the special aura surrounding these 12 songs. Knowing this could be the last we hear of them only amps up the need to savor each song like a precious moment in time. With hashtags floating around the internet like #ThisIsTheLastOne and shirts with phrases saying, “Brand New 2000-2018,” sadly fans can be pretty certain that the end is here.

Several themes play out throughout the record, ranging from the struggles of mental illness to the dread of growing older and living up to the standards given to the band as a result of their quickly gained fame. There are questions regarding the validity and need for Christianity (see “Could Never Be Heaven”) and glimpses of insecurities expressed as not only a band but also as individuals.

The opening track and first single from the album, “Lit Me Up,” begins with an eerie dialogue from a patient who’s undergone a kind of therapy and is ready for the peace of mind that comes from completing treatment. Remember the quirky dialogue and sound bits from Daisy? Fans will be happy to know that they are back and add to those feelings of reflection on the past and disdain for the future.

A theme of exhaustion is what sets the tone for the tracks to follow. This album has taken many years to produce and release dates and deadlines have been pushed back time and again. Lacey is ready for all the chaos to be over and is looking ahead to this next chapter of his life when the band is but a mere thought.

Again, on “Can’t Get It Out,” the struggle of finding a sense of hope can be seen with lyrics like “I’ve got a positive message/ Sometimes I can’t get it out.” It’s no surprise to any Brand New fan to find depressing and often angry messages from the band on their records, but here we see for the first time the idea that he wants to be portrayed in a better light than he has in the past.

Known for always being cutting edge in sound and approach to songwriting, this album boasts some of the lengthiest songs in the band’s history, with songs clocking in at six and eight and a half minutes. One of these songs, “In The Water,” is hauntingly beautiful. Lacey writes, “We all see what once was beautiful, is turning old and grey.” There’s almost a calmness as he sings these words; a contentment found in his current state, despite the gloom of everyday life. This song fully encapsulates what this record means to the band. The track ends with the most honest lyrics from Lacey to date when he says, “ I can’t fake it enough/ Can’t say it enough/ Can’t do it enough/ I can’t make it enough/ Can’t fake it enough/ I don’t want it enough/ So everyone will wait.”

Lastly, a favorite of mine is “Desert,” which is the most controversial track on the album. Here, Lacey speaks of his family and the pressures to be a good example, all the while feeling thoughts of sadness and unease. The track feels like something that could’ve been added to The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, with a battle clearly shown between both his good and bad demons. Lacey speaks of wanting to maintain a certain worldview in a modern era where anything seems to go. Will he raise his family in a way that will make him proud?

Despite starting out on the opening tracks with a depressed tone and with no hope in sight, “No Control” begins to shed some positivity with lyrics like, “Be for someone else. Love is in your actions.” I get the feeling that the positive message Lacey has wanted to portray over the years is finally coming to surface.

It’s clear that the band has put a lot of effort and emotion into this album, and if you’ve been a fan of Brand New from day one or last week, Science Fiction will not disappoint. As one of the smartest and most talented group of musicians to grace our airwaves in the last decade, it is clear that this band is meaningful and their legacy will live on in the coming years. Never settling or giving a care to what society says is what has made this band so relevant, and we can only hope to be graced by new music or ventures from the boys in the future. Until then, I’ll be listening to this album on repeat for the next month or three years.

Beginning September 9th, you can catch the band on tour in the States and in the UK.

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