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ALBUM REVIEW: Brand New - Science Fiction

The melancholy, alt-rock quartet Brand New are back at it again with their "brand new" (no pun intended) full-length release, Science Fiction. After many years of silence (and a few random, previously unreleased demos coming to the surface), the band is clearly settling into their post-The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me niche once more. This new album, released on August 17, 2017, features twelve tracks that definitely fall into the Brand New category of moody, introspective alt-rock. The album starts off with the strange and somber track "Lit Me Up". This track opens with a recording of a woman's therapy sessions concerning her recent unsettling dreams. As the woman speaks, music rises and falls in the background. The tone is utterly eerie, but somehow it works. Eventually, the track progresses into a melodious array of vocals by Jesse Lacey. The track maintains its unsettling tone throughout, which will remind Brand New fans everywhere exactly what they are in for: an album that evokes an almost uncomfortable sadness in the listener that, somehow, feels like home. The next track, "Can't Get it Out" begins as an acoustic track, progressing into a slightly more upbeat song that will remind fans of Deja Entendú in many ways. "Can't Get it Out" is followed up by "Waste", a track that uses a lyric similar to one found in Brand New's infamous song "Degausser": "Take apart your head". "Waste" doesn't go quite as deep as "Degausser", though, and in fact it finds itself being a lyrical commentary on every day relationships and the addiction-like quality of monogamous monotony. The next few tracks, "Could Never be Heaven", "Same Logic / Teeth", and "137" maintain the emotionally hard-hitting lyrical themes and almost groovy guitar riffs that Brand New has become known for. As do the latter tracks, "Out of Mana" (which is decidedly upbeat and adventurous for newer Brand New, perhaps taking a page from their older tracks), "In the Water", and "Desert". The last three tracks on the album are titled "No Control", "451", and finally, "Batter Up". "No Control" begins with almost spoken vocals over a single guitar melody, and it feels undeniably personal. The lyrics beg of the listener, "hold me down underwater / and don't bring me up again". "451", on the other hand, opens up to the percussion sounds of shakers and a downright bluesy, melodic guitar riff. The tempo increases as vocalist Jesse Lacey begins to sing, slowing again to a near stop as Lacey sings, "swallow the pitch which flows from the earth". This track is, in my opinion, the album's most different (or distinguishable) from any other Brand New track I have ever heard, and it is, surprisingly, a refreshing break from tradition. The album's final track, "Batter Up", plays on the baseball-centric titular phrase throughout the song's entirety, creating a cyclic effect that informs the song's central themes of the cyclic nature of loneliness and loss. Lacey sings, "It's never going to stop / Give me your best shot / Batter up". I'd be lying if I said this song didn't bring tears to my eyes, because it definitely did. This song brings to mind exactly what I referred to earlier in the article: the evocative sadness that feels like home, in which Brand New has truly carved their niche. Overall, the album is well worth listening to. It is just enough like former Brand New albums to invoke a sense of familiarity and pleasant nostalgia, all the while trying new things and branching off into more adventurous categories than ever before. Definitely do not miss out on this one, alt-rock fans. Also, check out Brand New's website for information regarding their upcoming tour dates.

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