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Brand New excels with latest album

James Costa | Thursday, December 6, 2007

It’s been awhile since Brand New came out with an album. Ever since the 2003 release of “Deja Entendu,” fans have waited to see what the Long Island quartet would come up with next, wondering if it could match the lyrical and musical levels reached in the band’s three previous indie-label albums. After a few listens it is clear there is nothing to worry about. “The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me” is a strong, introspective and pulsing record full of every lyrical twist and scream we’ve come to expect from Brand New, coupled with a more mature and nuanced look on the world. The sound only serves to make the album the band’s strongest yet. What makes the album so good and appealing is the different approaches to music making and songwriting heard on each track. For example, “Degausser” uses an eerie and slightly creepy choir sound to back frontman and lead singer Jesse Lacey’s vocals. In “Archers,” the listener is treated to a power-pop explosion typical to Brand New, but quite original nonetheless. On track three, “Jesus Christ,” the experiences of life on the road and the torments that plague Lacey first appear on the record. At first, it’s hard to tell whether he’s using the phrase “Jesus Christ” as a curse or a prayer. But it becomes clear that the song is a four-minute prayer wrapped in a polished rock ballad, emo expression unique to Brand New. The song is riveting because it is sexy yet fragile, hopeless yet bold. Similar to “Me Vs. Madonna Vs. Elvis,” it’s the type of song that made “Deja Entendu” so appealing, yet it makes the embittered life perspective seem fresh and new. It’s important to note that it’s not like Brand New has turned a completely new corner. But it’s not like the band has to, or needs to, either. It’s making the same music it has for years, full of tear dripped and sweating textures, anguished appeals to lost lovers and friends, and faux intellectualism laced with aching drama. What is best about the album is that not every song digresses into screaming and yelling after a minute and a half. So many similar bands go from soft to mad screaming, and after about seven years of hearing it, listeners have begun to appreciate bands that start songs soft and keep them soft until the next track begins. Yes, “The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me” does employ the same tried technique. However, many tracks stay mellow, and it’s a treat to aging ears to not have to ring in pain just to get through the songs. “The Devil and God” brings Brand New to new heights. It improves upon the benchmarks set in the band’s three previous and very good albums, delivering the listener to a realm that is distinctly Brand New, and yet still innovative. This rocking album will add depth to Brand New’s current tour.