Brand New: Science Fiction [Album Review]

Brand New
Science Fiction
Procrastinate! Music Traitors [2017]

Fire Note Says: Out of nowhere, Brand New returns with a moody, somber final record that will satisfy longtime fans and initiate legions of new ones.

Album Review: For fans of the cagey Long Island emo band Brand New, the past eight years have been a painful drought. The band’s last full-length release, Daisy, capped off a rare four-record-long hot streak that started in 2001 with the pop-punk essential Your Favorite Weapon and ended in 2009 with the band in an unrivaled position of authority and respect in the emo community. With the exception of a handful of singles and leaked demos between then and now, Brand New has spent the better part of the decade largely dormant.

But after eight long years, Brand New dropped their fifth–and supposedly final–record Science Fiction out of a clear blue sky on August 17th, 2017. And it’s every bit the flood for which parched fans have long clamored.

Released without an iota of hype or fanfare, Science Fiction, feels like the career culmination it’s rumored to be. The record is rife with callbacks to the band’s earlier works and peppered throughout with detectable traces of their previous styles. Rather than try something new for this final release, Brand New adds together the best sonic and lyrical themes of their previous releases, crafting a record that will be satisfy longtime fans and thrill new ones in equal measure. The song structures remain unpredictable, nontraditional, genre-defying and endlessly dynamic, while the lyrics conjure images as striking and visual as they are downright destructive (“Let’s all go play Nagasaki. We can all get vaporized,” broods Lacey on the instantly classic “137.” “Hold my hand, let’s turn to ash. I’ll see you on the other side.”)

Science Fiction finds Brand New in a far more melancholy and somber state than they were on Daisy. While that record was a spastic burst of violent energy, Science Fiction is haunting and solemn; rather than menace listeners with blistering yelps and screaming guitars, Lacey and company opt to spread out their message across lush, polished soundscapes and let them soak in over the course of the record. The lion-voiced Lacey is at the most restrained he has been since The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me–a critical change of pace that will be especially apparent to anyone who has heard Lacey drown entire stadiums with his trademark roar at a live show.

Science Fiction is an accomplished and beautifully recorded record–both a fitting return and a near-perfect ending. For those of us who have followed Brand New from their meteoric start to their climactic finish, all that is left to do now is to initiate the next generation of fans and gear up for the endless drought.

Key Tracks: “137” / “451” / “Desert”

Artists With Similar Fire: Manchester Orchestra / Modest Mouse / Sorority Noise

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– Reviewed by Dylan Gallimore

Dylan Gallimore
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