Few bands have such a cult following like Brand New does. A band with a brilliant discography and perhaps an even greater mystery behind them. They've risen to alternative fame with their cult classic The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, and now their back with their fifth and perhaps final album after eight years. Brand New bring one final cry in Science Fiction and make certain every note counts.
Brand New's Jesse Lacey is a perfectionist of sorts, though most of it sprouts from the demons in his head. He lets those demons be heard in his music. Science Fiction is much more lyrically driven than anything else, even if the instrumentals are powerful. Lacey sings depressedly, a sort of emptiness and longing in his voice as he sings. Opening track 'Lit Me Up' starts off with a sample that'll make you uneasy as the creepy instrumental slithers its way around it. Lacey and guitars come in to make it a more atmospheric and beautiful track, but he sounds almost possessed as he sings "If we're just dust, then it doesn't matter who you kill / Don't cut me up and tell me that it's ok / Just turn it off 'cause I don't care anyway," and revealing his demons place in his mind with "Something's stirring in a deep Atlantic trench / Doesn't forget the thousand years before it slipped / It's the beast, it's my heart, it's so brave."
That's a lot of weight to handle, and that's only the first song. Sometimes songs tell a story, like the sweet and melodic 'Could Never Be Happen,' while others just describe a feeling. Most tend to do the latter, and there are many moments where the delivery mirrors the message. 'Same Logic/Teeth' is one such example, the slowly building song getting angrier as it progresses/ 'Desert' later on in the record has a much cooler, almost Western vibe that sees Lacey singing much more retrospectively, the harmonies of the chorus that damningly proclaim "Don't come running to me when they're coming for you" adding a whole new level of anger to the lyrics even when the song remains groovy. As the song continues it gets even more haunting, harmonies and more elements building up to one awesomely composed track.
While Science Fiction is undoubtedly about the lyrics, it's sonically a powerful album as well. The height of its jamming energy is in '451' near the record, where the band's recording location (Tennessee) really starts to show its influence. The old-school country rock vibe gets paired with Brand New's alternative flair, the driven song really exploding in the choruses. Lacey blows up as he shouts "Soft spot, lightning rod / The paint is peeling / A million suns won't fill you up / If you can't see the wine pouring over your cup." It rolls with an angry twangy-ness, almost like Radiohead's 'Electioneering,' with less political anger and more personal demons to fight. 'Batter Up' closes the record on the best of both worlds, sounding distant as Lacey sings with a reminiscent timbre and a beautiful atmosphere backing him. It's masterfully composed, bringing the album to a full circle as you feel as if you're floating away into some light, never to return. It hits you hard in the heart and mind, and will keep you complacent for time to come.
Brand New bring one final cry in Science Fiction, their fifth and perhaps last album. The enigma that is this band never take things lightly, and though it took eight years for this album to finally follow the last, you can tell every note, word, and emotion was chosen carefully and with lots of passion. It's a masterpiece of emotion, bringing inner demons to the surface in a burst of fiery and blinding light.
Favorite Tracks: 451, Batter Up, Lit Me Up, Same Logic/Teeth
Least Favorite Track: No Control
Rating: 91 / 100
Stream or buy Science Fiction on Apple Music: