Good news emo fans! After seven years of waiting, Brand New have released their fifth full album, Science Fiction, and it’s a doozy. Now, if you were hoping for something in the same vein as recent releases Mene, and I am A Nightmare (I sure as shit was), well, it ain’t that, but bear with me.
Science Fiction shows bags of evolution while still feeling like the love-child of previous offerings Deja Entendu and Daisy; the familiar themes of loss, frustration, water (and drowning), hiding your daughters and hating motherfuckers are all present, as are the masterful quiet/loud mechanics and beautifully crafted lyrics.
The band has also seriously honed it’s sample game, as the opener sets the tone brilliantly and the intro to 137 is a tongue-in-cheek “Now for something completely different” moment that brings a smile to my face every time I hear it.
Opener Lit Me Up and Can’t Get It Out are more familiar fare and will almost certainly become live favourites. Can’t Get It Out was picked as the first single for a reason, by the way. It’s chirpy intro builds into a deeply satisfying crescendo-chorus that’ll have you screaming along in short order, the lyrics are smart and heartfelt, speaking to the kind of frustration that comes with seven years of struggling to find your voice. Again, there’s plenty of humour on show, with lines like “I thought I was a creator/I’m here just hanging around/Got my messiah impression/I think I got it nailed down” and “I’ve got a positive message/Sometimes I get it out”, Lacey isn’t afraid of taking the piss out of himself, or the infuriating irony of writer’s block.
Two of Science Fiction’s best tracks, 137 and Desert, represent a toe-dip into sardonic social commentary with a bewildering mix of humour and horror. The former’s hauntingly gleeful verse “Let’s all go play Nagasaki/We can all get vaporised/Hold my hand, lets turn to ash/I’ll see you on the other side” has earned me more than a few concerned looks at work, while the latter’s Dead Kennedys-esque satire of a Southern Christian homophobic gun-nut is full of grim hilarity. Both are cleverly catchy, getting their hooks in after the first listen and show razor-sharp wit.
While the album is rock-solid from top to bottom, bursting with melancholic melodies, Americana-inspired guitars, grungey walls-of-noise and plenty of pace to keep the moshpits moving, there are a few standouts. Same Logic/Teeth is like a grown-up Seventy Times 7, full of cutting barbs like closer “You say that you’re still hungry/Then bite the plate and break your teeth”, and is well-suited to a haters sing-along. 451 is high-energy fun from front to back, opening with an intro that’ll instantly remind you of True Blood and a truly stomping chorus, this’ll likely end up being played to death. Listen to it now before everyone else ruins it!
Overall, Science Fiction is a well-crafted album that shows plenty of skill and spirit in equal measure. The heart-wrenching pain of loss that can’t be replaced, the seemingly endless cycle of shit to overcome, the unending battles with oneself and the world are all underscored by music that’s as carefully considered and thought-provoking as the lyrics, punctuated with dark humour and impeccably executed. It’s still not as good as The Devil and God…. though.