Album Review: Brand New – Science Fiction

By Justin Cudahy, Staff Writer
[Procrastinate! Music Traitors; 2017]
Rating: 8.5/10

Key Tracks: “Waste”, “Out of Mana”, “Same Logic/Teeth”

It’s been eight long years since anyone has heard new music from Long Island indie rock band, Brand New. Convinced that the group had broken up for good, fans were finally given something to look forward to when a teaser for “LP5” was announced via the band’s Twitter, later evolving into Science Fiction, Brand New’s fifth and probably final studio album.

It doesn’t take long for Science Fiction to establish itself as a cold, dark and twisted LP. The title track, “Lit Me Up,” is just about as close to anything warm that you are going to get as a listener as the album slowly diminishes into a more personal and even frightening concept, with frontman Jesse Lacey leading the way. Here, Lacey delves deep into his own issues, including mental illness, depression and self-harm, which dominate the first half of the album.

The other half has Lacey going through what sounds like an existential crisis, with the concept of religious authority serving as a motif throughout. The track “137” paints a picture of what the world would be like after succumbing to nuclear annihilation in an almost romantic sort of way, bringing up themes of morality and faith. Meanwhile, Lacey scatters the album with not-so subtle hints about the band’s future. Lyrics such as, “I’m strumming with a heavy wrist / Were you one of the cured kids?” and “My shins burn for the replica youth / I hope that we can eject soon” suggest that this album will serve as the band’s finale, while also thanking those who listened to the group as a means of coping and escape.

In the early and mid-2000s, the band gained popularity for their unique sound, specifically in the emo and post-hardcore genre with the release of 2006’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. With Science Fiction, Brand New loosely keeps to their roots, instead of adapting to a more experimental, post-grunge kind of a sound. Tracks such as “Can’t Get It Out” and “No Control” sound much like Nirvana with its heavy acoustic guitar and aggressive chorus, while “Waste” and “Batter Up” are reminiscent to that of Pink Floyd’s signature ambient sounds and dreamscapes.

Brand New has certainly made it clear that Science Fiction is the group’s most mature LP up to date based on its overall production and change in sound. However, that same change also drags down the emotional impact of the LP. Despite the increasingly depressing and realistic nature surrounding the whole thing, there isn’t much there that will hit you as a listener that you would expect to feel. This is can be attributed to Lacey’s airy and simple vocals throughout most the album. It’s no coincidence that tracks such as “Same Logic/Teeth” and “451,” which are some of the closest to sounding like Brand New’s earlier works are the ones that are the most memorable and emotionally driven on this album. Fans will find themselves more saddened accepting the fact that this may be the band’s final album, rather than the actual content of the music on this LP.

For the last 17 years, Brand New has established itself as one of the more important and influential indie rock and emo groups of the 21st century. With the release of Science Fiction, the group has only cemented themselves further in their legacy. If this is in fact Brand New’s final work, they certainly ended it on a good note.

 

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