Anyone who knows me, follows me on social media, or has seen me at a show will probably be able to tell you that I have a serious love for Brand New. I own and regularly wear at least three of their shirts, so it’s not that big of a secret. I have followed them since the release of Deja Entendu, which is arguably one of the most influential alternative emo albums of all time. And when I say arguably, I mean it quite literally. I’ve had more than my fair share of heated debates about this band with close friends, and sometimes people I’ve known less than ten minutes. Everyone seems to have an opinion about Brand New, but more often than not the argument isn’t about whether or not they are an iconic band, just which of their albums is more iconic. The only thing fans of this band can seem to agree on is that Daisy is pretty fucking awful. I’ve seen some mixed reviews for their newest record, Science Fiction, but in my opinion this might just be the greatest spooky dad rock album of 2017.
All jokes aside, Brand New took an interesting approach to writing this album that is unlike anything we have heard from them in the past. They took the classic sound of 90’s dad rock, sprinkled in some country western, and topped it all off with that same sound we all loved so much in their last album. As if all of this excitement wasn’t already enough, the band decided to add ten unnecessary sound clips throughout this hour long Pearl Jam/ Breaking Bad theme/ Daisy mash-up. Honestly, I really enjoyed the instrumentals throughout most of this album, despite some of the guitar tracks sounding like Billy Ray Cyrus may have written them. Scattered throughout the twang, there are bits and pieces of the album that remind me why I fell so hard for Brand New in high school. The crisp harmonies and background vocals are so refreshingly similar to those found in Your Favorite Weapon I could almost feel the dyed black hair swooping over my forehead again.
Science Fiction has its ups and its downs, but one thing I cannot seem to get past is the lyrics. Brand New is known to have well written, thought provoking, and emotional lyrics that are easily relatable to the listener. That does not seem to be the case with this album. Most of these lyrics seem like Jesse Lacey googled the word ‘eerie’ and then exclusively wrote about the search results. Daunting lyrics are a staple of this band and continuing this trend was to be expected, but none of these emotions seem genuine to me. I am certainly not trying to say any emotions are invalid or lesser than others, just that the ones portrayed in this album feel artificial. My favorite lyrics on the album come from the song “Same Logic/Teeth.” They are as follows: “Well I guess nothing can be perfect so here’s a comforting thought/ at the bottom of the ocean fish won’t judge you by your faults.” This is a well-written line, but the whole thing is ruined by what I like to call the Oompa-Loompa effect. This is when you drop your voice an octave when singing the last line of a phrase. You know what I mean.
Another huge point I haven’t heard anyone talk about are the violently controversial lyrics in some of these songs. “137” tells a story of world annihilation and the current political state of the US. The lyrics “Let’s all go play Nagasaki,” while extremely insensitive, paints a clear picture of where the world might be headed. While he is still singing the antagonist’s viewpoint, I can wrap my head around this sentiment. One song that makes absolutely no sense to me is “Desert.” In this one, Lacey sings about the hatred that homosexuals have experienced as a result of religious intolerance. I can’t speculate on his life experience and whether or not he has felt these emotions, but this doesn’t seem like something a man with two kids and a wife should be narrating. What’s worse is that he tells this story from the antagonist’s perspective again! I’m not saying that Jesse Lacey isn’t the social warrior that some people believe him to be, just that writing about this topic from the perspective of the Westboro Baptist Church is wildly dangerous. If I actually didn’t know any better, I would think that this song was some sort of homophobic propaganda. There is very little context that tells the listener otherwise.
Overall, I would say that this is a decent album, but Brand New’s worst by far. From what I understand, they were looking to go in a different direction with this one. While I 100% respect their decision to do so, I don’t think I will be picking this album back up anytime soon. I will say that it’s better than Taking Back Sunday’s newest album, so at least they are still winning that fight.