Rather than partake in the creative stagnation and general apathy that is common of young bands, Brand New took the ambitious and uncommon route on their sophomore album Deja Entendu, one in which they would grow both musically and lyrically. Their efforts would pay off, for Long Island’s Brand New successfully meld pop, punk, and emo to create a sound precisely their own, a style that promises to support the unyielding buzz that has surrounded this band since 2001’s Your Favorite Weapon. From beginning to end, Deja Entenducaptivates the listener with carefully layered guitars, perfectly complementary drumming, and lead vocalist Jesse Lacey’s powerful and honest lyrics.
The tone of Deja Entendu is set in the solemn opener “Tautou,” which fades into “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades,” a stellar track with bass driven verses and a thundering chorus made complete with emocore screams. “I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light” tells of the pressures and loneliness of the road while the fourth track “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t” is destined to be quoted in the instant messenger profiles of bitter sad kids everywhere with lyrics like “I hope you come down with something they can’t diagnose/ And don’t have the cure for.” Lacey is not known for holding back at all in his lyrics.
First single “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” is vibrant and catchy with guitar slides and dueling vocals. The sixth track “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot” and “Me Vs. Maradona” are mellow, well-crafted songs that showcase the band’s ability to layer vocals, drumming, and guitars in the most effective and beautiful way. “Good To Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Have To Do Is Die” shows contrast between the quiet, haunting verses and the blaring chorus and arena-worthy breakdowns. On this track, Brand New show an understanding of the fact that when played skillfully, instruments can speak for themselves, a concept that many bands, who instead fill space with “na na na’s” or pointless repetition, could take the time to learn. The bouncing riffs of “Jaws Theme Swimming” and the power and sincerity of “Guernica” give the album the necessary alt-rock edge, and the acoustic “Play Crack the Sky” brings the album to a fittingly casual and emotional closure.
Deja Entendu, which means “heard it before” in French, is ironically one of the least derivative rock albums released in recent years. Brand New did not make an album to “break” the band, which is a common mistake amongst young acts eager to join the world of fame, riches, and groupies. The key to longevity is to grow as a band, make the best music possible to satisfy themselves and music fans, and not to force premature mainstream success. Brand New has done this, and as they continue to tour and produce albums, they will find themselves with a successful and well-earned career.
(Razor & Tie Records)