Artist: Brand New
Label: Procrastinate Music Traitors/DGC/Interscope
Due Out: September 22nd
Once you get over the shock of Brand New's fourth release, Daisy, maybe it becomes a great record. I guess I just haven't recovered from that initial sense of bewilderment yet. Daisy, in theory, appears as one might expect a Brand New album would; drastically different from the previous one, darker, moodier and heavier. As much as I saw all of that coming, what I couldn't have predicted was the blending of it all together. From mellow portions of Smiths' covers, to overdone impressions of Modest Mouse, there's just not enough separation present on Daisy for me to accept it as anything more than just another release from them (a first in my opinion). Perhaps this changes with time, but for now, consider me amongst those who find it good, but in no way great.
"Vices" starts off the record with a sample of "On Life's Highway," written by Bertrand Brown. The band has never done anything like this, and for those who are most acutely associated with the them, perhaps this is the most frightening/confusing moment on the album, amidst 40 minutes full of them. Cutting into the sample at about 90 seconds in, lead singer Jesse Lacey channels his inner Daryl Palumbo, reaching dizzying heights with his formerly-reserved scream. The one thing I can commend about the track though is that it sets the tone for an album that does a lot of interesting and technical things, strictly from a musical standpoint. "Bed" trudges in next, with a spacious, off-kilter southern rock anthem which builds itself to crescendo several times, yet never seems to reach its climax, and rather just tails off as a classic rock solo at song's end. First single "At the Bottom" chimes in afterwards, slowly, but surely. Playing off the sort of verse/chorus alternating intensity that made Isaac Brock famous, the band continues to capture a southern guitar rock feel, inorganic for them, but seemingly appropriate of the release.
"Gasoline" is a spitting, venomous punk number, seemingly aflame with the same substance the track takes its name from. Throughout the release, I go back and forth as to whether I approve of the screeching, waling guitar sounds littering the background, but on this track, the persistent noise works very well. Lacey has created for himself a brooding, moribund world with Daisy, and this song goes a long way towards solidifying that. When "You Stole" kicks in, however, you are suddenly transported back to 2004. At the time, Brand New had just discovered what they could begin to be capable of, and their signature (for a time) smokey bar-feel was birthed. The song plods, but amidst a sprawling scenery featuring electronic experimentation completely unheard of in the band's repertoire. If other critics insist on citing this as some sort of "watershed" moment, maybe this song is it, as the song wanders for six minutes in search of metal, and nearly succeeds. "Be Gone" would lend further to this sentiment, if it weren't for the fact that it sounds EXACTLY like a Modest Mouse song.
Unfortunately, these comparisons must continue on the verse of "Sink." If not for the screaming, spiraling chorus that more resembles a bear attack than anything of the indie rock variety, Brand New might have a lawsuit on their hands. At least Lacey makes sure to bring in his now-trademark God questioning though, so it counts as a dash of his own personality. Slowing things down a bit at the beginning, "Bought A Bride," which made the rounds as a live track on the internet last year, intersperses Lacey's bellowing and guitar solos into a fit of rock 'n' roll.
Next, "Daisy" is an echo-filled jaunt through the woods, starting in slow, and then grabbing onto some heavy noise influences for the second half; building, but never quite hitting the high point you expect. "In A Jar" tries to make up for this immediately afterwards, acting as the album's most bipolar contribution. Gyrating from the subtle nods to God-searching into the chaotic bombast of the chorus, it feels as if all of Daisy's built up aggression finally reaches its pinnacle. Good thing, because "Noro" doesn't go a long way towards said release. As hard-hitting as portions of the song get, it more resembles some spoken-word nu metal act, than one of indie rock's former noise aficionados. The only real saving grace is the continued southern rock influence that rescues it from the depths with a grinding, squealing solo to send it into more sampling to close out the album.
From the gallows of the album's onset, the band does a fair job of rescuing itself. It's just too bad that it had to start the way it did to begin with. What could have been a very promising effort on their part, what with all of the noise they incorporate, is downgraded to something just deemed okay by those who tune in. For longtime fans, their melodic core-- the leg they've stood on for the entire decade-- is seemingly a distant memory. Though not a horrible effort, the band sells itself a bit short on Daisy, if only maybe to prove a point to people. Similarities would probably include the aforementioned Modest Mouse, Manchester Orchestraand Built to Spill.
Best Track: "Gasoline" (not available, but check out "At the Bottom" below)
[Previously on Animal Noises: New Brand New, "At the Bottom"]