Brand New – The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (2006)

Brand New are one of those bands that never do the same thing twice. Since their debut album ‘Your Favourite Weapon’ and it’s Pop-Punk style, to their sophomore release ‘Deja Entendu’ bringing a more Emo/Alternative Rock sound and finally to their third release ‘The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me.’ Although Brand New’s music is considered ’emo’, it isn’t anything like the stereotypes placed on the genre.

Jesse Lacey’s vocals and lyrics don’t fall into the ever-present pit of whiny-ness and complete self-loathing as many third-wave emo bands tend to. Jesse Lacey’s style of songwriting is often likened to Morrissey (The Smiths’ vocalist). Instead of the repetitive whining that is expected from a modern ‘Emo’ band, Jesse sounds genuinely in some kind of emotional turmoil. The age-old fight between good & evil, within himself.

The album opens with ‘Sowing Season.’ The track starts of quietly, with Jesse mumbling “Was losing all my friends/ Was losing them to drinking and to driving/” It then, seemingly without warning, moves between these quiet, melancholic clean sections to louder, more distorted sounding, rock-based choruses. This is a formula used throughout many songs on the album.

Two of my favourite songs on the album ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Handcuffs’ stray from the formula. The latter being the only song on the album that was not written by Jesse Lacey. Instead, Vincent Accardi (Guitar, back-up vocals and piano) took care of the lyrics on it, and he did a great job. It probably fits the title of the album better than any other single song on the album.  The chorus saying “It’s hard to be the better man/ When you forget you’re trying/” It’s filled with a lot of things that he would do if there wasn’t something stopping him. Things like, “I’d drown all these crying babies/ If I knew that their mothers wouldn’t cry/” and “I’d drive my car off of a bridge/ If I knew that you weren’t inside/”
My favourite track on the album, ‘Jesus Christ’ is about Jesse being unsure about what he believes in. “Well, Jesus Christ, I’m not scared to die/ I’m a little bit scared of what comes after/” It’s one of the more radio-friendly sounding songs, though it’s clear that wasn’t what it wasn’t intended for radio-play.

The theme of death caused by drunk-drivers is brought up once again, in the album. The song ‘Limousine’ is about the 7 year old Katie Flynn who died in a car accident caused by a 24 year-old man who had just finished partying with some friends. She was on her way home from being the flower girl at her parent’s wedding. Katie & the limo driver both died on impact. Katie was decapitated from the impact, and when the police arrived they found her mother cradling Katie’s head in her arms. If you weren’t moved by that song, you have no soul!

This is definitely a top-heavy album, bar a couple tracks. The opening 6 tracks are far more interesting than the closing 6 [7, if you have UK version. ‘Luca (Reprisal Version) is a bonus on it], though they aren’t bad.
Overall, it’s one of my favourite Rock albums ever made. I credit this album as being the album that really got me interested in NRHH.

Standouts: Sowing Season, Jesus Christ, Limousine (MS Rebridge) and Handcuffs.

Overall: 90/100

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