In 2001, Brand New arrived on the scene with a solid pop-punk album called Your Favorite Weapon. For the most part it was as generic as most pop-punk albums are, but hints of brilliance came through with the lyrics in songs such as Seventy Times 7 and Mix Tape. In 2003, the band released their follow-up album, Deja Entendu. Brand New has returned in full force with Deja Entendu, successfully doing two things:
- Avoiding the sophomore slump
- Knocking me on my ass with one of the the best albums of 2003. Deja Entendu takes the insanely catchy riffs of their mainly pop punk debut and added hardcore and emo influence, creating a masterpiece, a 10 out of 10, a 5 star album, a 100%, without a doubt.
Deja Entendu takes the mediocrity of The Used, Taking Back Sunday, and Finch and throws it back in their wussy little faces. Jesse Lacey takes the mega-genre of punk/pop punk/rock/emo/screamo/indie rock and turns it upside down and inside out, rips it to shreds, then methodically sews it back together. OK, enough of the ass-kissing, here is Deja Entendu, presented to you track by track:
1. Tatou - An intro track, it's not going to be anyone's favorite song, but it sets the tone for the album, with it's haunting production and lyrics. The journey begins....
2. Sic Transit Gloria ... Glory Fades - This is the second single, and one of my favorites, the rhythm section produces an almost hip-hop beat to which Jesse throws down some of his best lyrics. The chorus packs a punch, and gives the first jolt of energy to a predominantly somber album.
3. I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin Light - Begins with an eloquent acoustic section, then Jesse plugs in his guitar and the madness begins. The vocals are most impressive here, leading the rest of the band through the ups and downs, louds and quiets, and the varying tempos, finishing in a wonderful mess of crashing guitars and drums.
4. Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't - For the first 2 minutes this song is rather unimpressive, I thought the album was entering filler-mode. Then Jesse comes out of nowhere with his darkest, and wittiest lyrics ever, "My tongue's the only muscle in my body that works harder than my heart ", mocking Dashboard Confessional's whiny and estrogen-driven dreck. The song builds up to its climax, and releases the tension with a pair of throttling guitars and some passionate Thursday-style screaming.
5. The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows - The first single off of Deja Entendu, and it has already captured the attention of MTV with an interesting video. This song, begins with a blast of vocal energy, and follows a quick pace throughout. The chorus contains some top-notch vocal volleying between Jesse and his guitarist, Garret. Quiet Things ends with a buildup to an extended version of the chorus and completely blew me away. Who knows what this song will do to the MTV-crowd?
6. The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot - A primarily acoustic song, track 6 eventually adds some electric guitar, but maintains a slow pace. Jesse shows off his softer and more emotional lyrics on this song. It's not one of my favorites, but it's impossible to skip and could never be called "filler".
7. Jaws Theme Swimming - Great song, opens up with a catchy little riff which suddenly explodes into pounding waves of guitar which last the entire track. Jesse shows off his vocal skills on this song as well, and he isn't afraid to yell and bare his weaknesses. Brand New perfectly balances their cleaner sound with raw energy, and it never sounds like an overproduced sophomore mess likeThird Eye Blind's Blue.
8. Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis - OK folks, here it is, the best song off of Deja Entendu. Like many other off Lacey's songs, it starts off rather quiet and intimate, and the instrumentation is sparse yet slowly expanding. However this song doesn't have a chorus at all, it simply has a controlled explosion of pent up sexual frustration towards the end. The power buildup and the outburst of emotion in Jesse's screaming of "I WILL LIE AWAKE!!!!" gives off the combined effect of drinking a 6 pack of Red Bull and then downing a bag of pixie stix. I ended up pressing the back button at least 5 times before I could move on to the next track.
9. Guernica - If Jesse played the role of an apprehensive sex fiend in the last track, he pulls a 180 on Guernica and addresses his helplessness to his dying grandfather. One of the faster paced songs, Jesse exercises his admittedly limited vocal range among a roller coaster of heavily distorted guitars. The soft-loud structure is prevalent here and keeps the song interesting. Not my favorite song, but it has power and a couple of great lyrics, so it too is unskippable. It seems reminiscent of Seventy Times 7 from the debut album.
10. Good To Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Have To Do Is Die - Frankly, Brand New could have ended their album with Guernica and I would be happy, but this song is definitely worth the wait. The first two minutes are tough to get through, the echo effect on Jesse's voice just doesn't do it for me and neither does the slow guitar riffs. Soon enough though, Garrett comes through with his best guitar-work yet, comprising mostly of longer and rollicking solo sections.
11. Play Crack The Sky - The quintessential acoustic closer, Jesse ends on a sad note, just as he did with Soco Amaretto Lime on Your Favorite Weapon. The lyrics are poignant and tell the tragic story of a couple in love, in the midst of drowning at sea. Jesse's voice is layered 3 times over at points, yet the production once again maintains the raw energy of the song.
And with that the album ends.