Artist: Brand New
Album: The Devil & God are Raging Inside Me
Purchase: Smart Punk
Release Date: November 21, 2006
Originally leaked as a demo in January, the first track on Brand NewÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s much-anticipated Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“The Devil & God are Raging Inside MeÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ is called Sowing Season. Much like its demo counterpart, the song starts without a musical introduction, instead breaking into a barely-changed lyric. Missing, however, is the original second verse. Instead, it is replaced with a catchy Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“I am on the mend/At least now I can say that I am trying/Hope you will forget/The things that I still lackÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢. ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s at this point in the album that we can truly see the glory of re-writes. While the original lyric was not a weak one (it was, in fact, a favourite of mine), the re-write fits the song more in terms of theme, tone and overall colour.
After the opening track (also the lead-off single), we delve into Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“brand newÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ (lame) territory. Millstone is a raw track with a reverberant chorus that laments about the past, and the present (Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“this ship of fools IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢m on will sinkÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢), and appropriately uses the analogy of a millstone around oneÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s neck (in case youÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re unaware, a millstone is defined as an exhaustive emotional or mental burden). Overall, it is a catchy track with understated instrumentation and emotive lyrics, which is typical of the band.
Track three is where it gets serious. Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“JesusÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ takes the band in a new direction. Religion is obviously a recurring theme on the album, and this song brings that to the forefront. Neither political, preachy, nor critical, the song can only be described by saying Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“it is what it isÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢. A humourously analytical verse about what happens after death is one of the best parts of this song (Jesus Christ, IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢m not scared to die/IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢m a little bit scared of what comes after/Do I get the gold chariot?/Do I float through the ceiling?). The obvious lack of a chorus in the song brings to light a solid fact about the band: they donÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t need to conform to songwriting rules in order to write songs that are catchy, relatable and commercial enough to sell. Lyricist Jesse Lacey bares it all on this track, with nothing but a great result.
Degausser is one of the songs that everyone was curious about, having played it frequently on tour this summer under the title of Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“Take Apart Your HeadÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢. Before the release of the album there were rumours circulating regarding this track. The final product is a mellow and subdued track in the verses, which explodes in the chorus with a choral round of Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“take apart your headÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢. Layering of vocals and muddy instrumentation give this track a unique feeling from the rest of the album.
Track 5 is Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“LimousineÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢, an almost 8-minute song that starts off with a simple acoustic guitar and haunting vocals. After about two minutes, the song slowly graduates into a more defined piece, with repetitive lyrics (Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“I love you so much, but do me a favour baby, donÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t replyÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‚¦ cause I can dish it out, but I canÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t take itÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢), and building instrumentation. The anticipation builds for about three minutes before the track breaks into a softer denouement and some noise in the last 30 seconds. This song is demonstrative of the experimental edge that the band bares on this record.
Following Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“LimousineÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ is Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“You WonÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t KnowÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢. Aptly titled for its chorus, unlike most of Brand NewÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s obscure song titles, the song has got a catchy melody and an overall busy tone. The lyrics take a back seat to the instrumentation in this song, which is not typical of the bandÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s writing style. The conclusion of the song is my favourite part: Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“I canÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t use the telephone/To tell you that IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢m dead & gone/So you wonÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t know/You wonÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t knowÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢.
A sort of intermission, Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“Welcome to BangkokÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ is an instrumental track featuring only sparse spoken vocals saying Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“Space cadet, pull outÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢. In true Brand New fashion, it starts acoustically and builds into a noisy reverberant chant of distorted guitars, screams, and lots of hi-hat.
Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“Not the SunÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ is a more upbeat song that again focuses on vocals and lyrics. One of the more catchy songs on the album (I havenÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t been able to get Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“WonÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t you be my baitÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ out of my head since acquiring the album), it brings us back to Deja Entendu in terms of lyrical style. A favourite lyric of mine is Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“Say youÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re my friend, but why wonÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t you be my family?Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ Repetitive and fun, the bridge is probably my favorite part of the track. Slowing down the tempo, Lacey repeats Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“Settle baby, you are not the sunÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢. Overall, it is one of the best tracks on the album.The next track was also leaked as a demo in January. Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“LucaÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢, when released as a demo, featured a strong opening lyric (Well I lost my taste for the company of airports and cars/We flew through the year and/Avoided the dust and the rock). The opening lyric on this track, however, I feel pales in comparison (When I disappear, do you fear for the sister I took/ When I disappear, it is clear I am up to no good). Luckily, the majority of the rest of the song stays true to its demo counterpart. ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s also one of the more structured songs on the album, which just proves their capabilities as writers. It also presents a recurring theme in their music. Like in Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“Play Crack the SkyÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢, there are many references to water, which I believe is an ode to their Long Island home.
Untitled (considering the bandÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s history with titles, IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢m sure there was some thought that went into titling it Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“UntitledÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢) is basically another two minute instrumental with muffled vocals repeating Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“I can never love you, I can never reach youÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢.
The second to last track is Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“The Archers Bows Have BrokenÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢, which brings back Brand NewÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s affinity for longer titles. Seemingly to have taken influence from The Smiths, the song is driving and one of the poppy-est on the album. To me, the overall tone of the song, specifically the chorus, seems to have been derived from the 9th demo that was leaked in January. I could be wrong, but when I listen to this song I hear a lot of similarities. Overall, it is probably one of my favorite tracks, and is in some ways reminiscent of Brand NewÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s first album.
The last track of the album is Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“HandcuffsÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢. Written by Vinnie Accardi, as opposed to usual lyricist Jesse Lacey, the song starts out a lot like Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‹Å“Play Crack the SkyÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ with the count in and acoustic guitar. Due to its stripped down nature, and simple lyrics, itÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s definitely one of my favorite tracks on the album. ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s a great way to close the album, as well, and the string arrangement is very complimentary to the tone.
Overall, the album speaks volumes for the direction in which the band is headed. ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s a great compilation of some of their best work to date, and while it may dissuade some of the fans that prefer their poppier work, it seems truly artistic and original to me.
1. Sowing Season (Yeah)
3. Jesus Christ
6. You Won’t Know
7. Welcome to Bangkok
8. Not the Sun