Jesse Lacey at the show in Barcelona
So Brand New, one of my all time favorite bands, is breaking up (I’ve known for a while so it’s not a fresh wound). I thought I’d take the time to write about what I like most about the band and my personal connection to their music.
The personal connection part:
Below is a video I took of Jesse singing Soco (encore) in Paris last summer. It was a small venue and a very mixed crowd–primarily UK if I had to say. My then boyfriend and I had seen Brand New two days prior in Barcelona, and then we traveled to Paris to see them again. Both shows were incredible. In Barcelona we saw them right on the water. They played a lot of Devil and God. In Paris they played a pretty balanced set with a bit from each album. Jesse also covered Pop Queen by Ben Lee (probably for his wife who was there). The Soco encore was the highlight of everything (for me). It was always a special song to me and my ex (we actually made up our own recipe for soco amaretto limes and made bartenders all over europe make them for us).
After the show we were hanging around in the bar chatting with some Belgian guy, and then we ran into Vin and later Jesse who introduced us to his wife Andrea. My ex, a big baseball fan, was always concerned as to why Jesse would wear a wide variety of different team’s hats (oakland athletics, anaheim angels etc). Jesse explained to us that he collects hats with A on them for his wife Andrea.
We’re not together anymore, and it’s strange getting the official news about Brand New’s eminent breakup without him (we knew it was coming for a while but still). We just shared Brand New and those shows and those moments. It’s interesting and weird to me how closely we associate music to people and memories. Especially as someone who is always listening to and exploring music, I find myself associating certain albums and songs to almost every single memory I have.
I think it makes perfect sense that Brand New is breaking up. If I was Jesse I wouldn’t want to keep singing my angsty, depressed younger self’s diary over and over again either. I actually don’t listen to Brand New very often anymore. I feel more or less the same way Jesse does: I’m happier now, and I don’t need the songs anymore. Nonetheless the idea of Brand New ceasing to exist as a band sucks. It feels like a time and part of me is being taken away.
The music blogger part:
Brand New defines emo, but they have a hell of a lot of range. When I first discovered them what I found most intriguing was that each album sounded completely different from the album before it. How is it possible for a band to reinvent itself so often but still be recognizable and good?
Your Favorite Weapon. Deja Entendu. The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. Daisy.
YFW was Brand New’s first album, and this is totally obvious when you listen to it. It isn’t bad (it could be my favorite!); it’s just dripping in pop punk teenage angst. “Girl, come to me. / The only brokenhearted loser you’ll ever need, / or I’ll be left alone forever with my magazines.” I mean it’s catchy and fun with great guitar riffs, but you know they’re teenagers. I love it to death.
Deja is still dripping in self-indulgent angst, but it is far darker and more introspective. It’s a depressing album and their bestselling album! It was my absolute favorite record for a solid year. I would listen to it basically on repeat. Couldn’t stop. And I would never shuffle it I would always listen all the way through. Deja is very much meant to be listened to as an album. It brilliantly tells a story of love and depression and desire and is also aesthetically cyclical and complete. It’s a departure from the complete pop punk of YFW but not completely. It certainly fits perfectly into “emo” as a genre and is why Brand New is labeled “emo.”
Devil and God is probably Brand New’s most mature album to date. Lyrically it addresses far more complicated themes (not just wanting the girl). Stylistically the album is also more complex. The songs get longer and louder and weirder. The lyrics are more angry than sad or angsty. It sounds totally different from YFW, but one can easily tell that Deja and Devil and God are by the same artist.
Daisy is certainly the Brand New album I’ve listened to the least (I’ve still listened to it a lot). Certain songs sound totally different from anything Brand New has done and others are easily recognizable. There are certain artistic high points on the album–notably “Vices”,”At the Bottom”, and “Sink”–but I’ve never felt that it’s particularly stunning as an album. The songs are insanely fun live though.
Brand New is awesome, and I will miss them.