It has been a long, sometimes frustrating wait for Brand New to release their fifth studio record (8 years). There were plans/roomers to have it be released last year but as it was the 10th anniversary of arguably one of the best albums of the 2000s The God and the Devil Are Raging Inside Me (2006) they celebrated its importance to their career with a tour playing it in its entirety. There were tours as well as a few early demo collections alongside two singles Mene (2015) and I Am a Nightmare (2016) to tide people over.
Straight from the off there is an aura that something extraordinary lies ahead. Eerie is an apt description for a couple of reasons one, it opens up with a recording of a woman recalling a dream to a psychiatrist (similar snippets and oddities appear again and again across Science Fiction). Then the delivery of Lit Me Up is somewhat isolated Lacey’s vocal and sole guitar is all you hear for a good chunk of the run time, even when the rhythm section join in it is very subtle but none the less great. It is one hell of an introduction or welcome (full) return.
Can’t Get it Out has a little more bite and one hell of a catchy whistle (plus the muted chucks are always a hit with me) here lyrically focusing on depression one of the multiple topics that are delved into linked to the complexities of humanity and fear of ourselves/our own minds. Could Never be Heaven is a sweet sentiment but again it has a darker Brand New twist.
137 is a philosophical account of the end of man due to the dropping of nuclear bombs, questions of why we would do such a thing, why can’t we just love one another. Here possibly being influenced by current tensions around the globe and the grim realisation that there is a chance that we,
‘all go play Nagasaki,
We can all get vaporised,
Hold my hand, let’s turn to ash,
I’ll see you on the other side’
Furthermore 137 is musically layered with acoustic guitars some wah-wah effected guitar, killer lead lines leading to one hell of an ending. Mixing these lyrics with this music genuinely creates one of the most hard hitting, chilling songs in recent memory what a masterful 5 minutes and 1 second.
Suitably titled Desert is simplistic instrumentally whilst Lacey embodies a man of strict faith who is disgusted at seeing two men kissing in the street, his unwillingness to give up his gun and other thoughts about how this character views society. 451 is damn groovy taking from the electric Chicago blues of the early 20th Century blended with more modern rock elements to create another memorable moment.
Album number 5 tips its hat respectfully to each LP that came before it which is fitting as it will probably be the last one. Science Fiction is everything that Brand New represent for many people, the flaws of being human, difficulties of relations either romantic or not and the struggles of life. It also draws attention to the massive hole left in Vincent Accardi, Jesse Lacey, Brian Lane and Garrett Tierney’s absence a connection to genuine emotion. If this is indeed the end for Brand New then it is a stupendous creation to close their career.