It’s only natural for a healthy band to transform over the course of its long and often twisted career path, exploring new sounds or diverging into parallel genres. Long Island-based alt-rockers Brand New are no exception. Led by lyrical prodigy and guitarist Jesse Lacey, Brand New has risen to popularity since it signed with Triple Crown Records in 2001. Since this transition to a major label, the group has shed its initial association with cliché, eyeliner-ridden rockers like Taking Back Sunday and Senses Fail, plumbing psychological depths untouched by modern “scream-o.”
The group culminated this raw makeover with 2006’s profoundly surprising release of Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. The album marked a drastic shift in theme and mood, channeling Lacey’s personal depression into a dark, guttural release. On Daisy, Brand New attempts to continue this trend, but ultimately fails, overreaching with 45 minutes of desperation atop obnoxiously distorted guitar tracks.
Most of Daisy shows a clear departure from the band’s previous formula, which consisted of Lacey’s better-than-average voice pelting the listener with clever lyrics over aching, bass-driven tracks. Daisy opts instead for a fury of, well, loudness. To call the album dissonant is an understatement. The opening track “Vices” is the most obvious example, sounding more like an extended yell than any sort of song.
One need only look at the track list to notice the distinct difference in intention. Brand New used to come up with engaging titles like “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad” or “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot,” but now hands out loathing, one-word monikers like “Sink” and “Gasoline.” The titles are evidence of the transition from wit and finesse to brute, musical force.
With Brand New’s overblown attempt at amped-up instrumentation, the band loses the opportunity to capitalize on its greatest talent: lyricism. Most of the album is wasted on seething guitars and mutant yelling, foregoing any development of compelling lyrics. The only two exceptions are the title track in which the group circles around the issue of male insecurity and the memorable track “At the Bottom.”
Daisy fails to capitalize on Lacey’s obviously profuse emotional burden like Devil and God did. Where Brand New’s previous releases used witty lyrics and guitar-centric melodies to convey an often-jilted view of love, the band instead covers up its insecurities with loudness. Daisy provides an image of an abrasive, nervous band, a stark contrast from the self-assuring, dynamic band shown in the past. Where the album strives to feel multidimensional, the blandness of its single-stroke over-aggressive structure actually results in something very one-dimensional. The bands attempt at greatness ends up in nothing but mediocrity, and is capable of inciting in fans a brand new aggravation for Brand New’s risk taking.