After the release of their solid pop-punk debut album, Brand New took a giant leap forward with the second album: Deja Entendu.
Whilst Your Favourite Weapon was firmly pop-punk, this album moves away to a more mature, fuller musical sound with greater variety.
The band have obviously matured both as people and musiciancs, reflected in the more assured, boundary-pushing lyrical and musical tones.
Jesse's voice has improved, allowing him to input even greater emotion into his vocals: delicate when required, such as the haunting opener 'Tautou' or powerful and forceful, as heard on 'Sic Transit Gloria...'.
Songs such as 'Sic Transit Gloria' and 'The Quiet Things' both are rooted in pop-punk structure and sensibilities, but the all-powerful bass on the former and guitar melodies and all round 'tightness' of the latter distinguishes them from their peers.
The album features a much greater variety than its predeccesor, with acoustic numbers accounting for a sizeable percentage of the run time (including another chilling closer - 'Play Crack the Sky'), although many of these ultimately evolve into loud intense rock songs with contributions from all 4 band members.
Jesse's lyrics also tread new ground, moving away from the teenage angst of their debut to clever concepts (such as 'Good to Know' which alternates between the tales of a writer and his character) and Guernica, in which Lacey opens his heart to the pain felt when a loved one falls ill and the ultimate desire to do anything, anything to save them.
Deja Entendu is french for 'already heared', however, this album is anything but.
It represents a stylistic change for the band and furthered their path to making true musical masterpieces, transcendant of genre. It is unique.
Brand New are a band hailing from Long Island, New York (what on earth gets put in the water over the over there?!!). Formed in 2000, the band currently consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Jesse Lacey, guitarist Vincent Accardi, bassist Garrett Tierney, drummer Brian Lane, and guitarist/keyboardist Derrick Sherman.
The band found local exposure due to playing with bands such as Glassjaw and Midtown and signed to Triple Crown Records after their second gig.
Deja Entendu (French for 'already heard') was released in 2003 and 2 singles which broke the UK top 40 were released from it, Sic Transit Gloria....Glory Fades and The Quiet Things That Nobody Ever Knows. Deja Entendu the album was eventually certified gold in the United States a few years after its release. The title reflects Jesse Lacey's belief that no matter what you release critics will always say that it has been done somewhere down the lines before.
Deja Entendu was released to critical acclaim and is also credited as earning then band tours with bands such as the amazing Thrice, Fall Out Boy and Alkaline Trio as well as many more others.
It is much different to their first album, and is a much more mature sounding offering with a heavy melancholy and atmospheric feel throughout the record, epic and ethereal without being pretentious.
The introduction is not typical of any record I've heard before, Tautou is a slow and very atmospheric affair of over a minute and a half long, a good introduction easing you into the rest of the album.
Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades was one of the top 40 hits, which had a video featuring a member of Glassjaw in one of the last shots!! A very bass heavy track with a somewhat gang vocal chorus. Lacey paints an impressively dark picture with its thoughtful lyrics and slightly gentle vocals to begin with, but the boy has got a good pair of lungs and uses them to great effect in the chorus. The backing vocals are used to further bring the song to life to the listener. An absolute cracking song and a well deserved single.
The Quiet Things......is an immensely epic song with a gorgeous guitar. A beautiful, emotionally moving song which again showcases the singing talents of all the band, the guitar riffs are simply sublime. The heavy guitars make way for an amazing sounding latter part seeing Jesse's voice slightly morphed and whispery. The whole song has a hugely ethereal and dreaming quality about it. Towards the end the backing vocals kick back on for a big sounding ending.
Jaws Theme Swimming is a somewhat quieter song until the huge melodic chorus breaks in out nowhere, again a bit bassy. Jesses voice is just..........immense. Undescribable. A very talented singer. He brings the listener again in this one and it will have you hooked, all the quirky little musical bits through out, a very interesting listen.
The songs towards the end of the album get a bit more experimental and can make you forget the world around you in an instant.
The real standout on this album is the songwriting. Pure, earnest, unspoilt, not always making perfect sense to someone who were to read them, but when you listen to them they will make perfect sense. It blows my mind that people can write such evocative songs, or any songs at all for that matter, Brand News songs push the bar for epic songwriting. A fine album.
Tautou is the introduction song to this album and it has not been overlooked by the band. I find a lot of album introductions are pointless and half hearted but this song is quite the exception. 1:42 is a nice length for this atmospheric, calm, well thought about song. The song sets a mood for the album but not a pace and the second song, Sic Transit Gloria, really kicks the listener up the backside with it's hard hitting drum beat and catchy bass line.
Deja Entendu, meaning already seen in French, is a wonderful mix of catchy riffs and melodies, sarcastic and clever lyrics, beautiful production and incredible continuity without getting boring. Each song leads nicely onto the next and the whole album has been accepted by the world pleasantly because of the obvious hard work involved.
You see a maturity in this album in comparison to the first which really brings a brilliant band into the spotlight of critics of the genre. The lyrics portray an enhanced feeling of fear, paranoia, and angst. Examples include the hardship of endless touring, "I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light", Lacey's struggle with his grandfather's lung cancer, "Guernica", and the emotional and psychological tolls of sex, "Sic Transit Gloria".
"Good to Know if I need Attention All I have to do Is Die" is a song cleverly built around 2 sides of the same story. One has been written by the writer on his own life and the other is written by someone looking in.
No one would ever expect an album of such originality and one of alternative premise to be widely accepted and to some extent the bias and close mindedness of media has restricted it somewhat. On the other hand the album did reach gold sales in 2007 and was rated in the top 100 albums of 2003. Personally I would rate this in the top 100 albums of this decade.
Dreary at times but beautiful all the way through this is definitely worth a listen to and in my opinion worth buying.
Having reviewed their third album, I thought it would be time to go back, and visit their second, the French titled "déjà entendu", which translates to "Already Heard". The album was released in 2003, and both musically, and lyrically, is completely different to their debut.
This was the original album I head by Brand New, after being introduced to them with their song "Me vs Maradona vs Elvis". Falling in love with that track, I immediately sought the album, and was hooked on it for weeks.
Opening the album very quietly, Brand New begin with echoes and reverberations in the music, as Jesse Lacey softly whispers the first lines, slow drums come in, and Lacey's voice gains strength but sounds more distant, adding real emotion to the short song. Lyrically, it is only two lines, repeated over and over... It does a very good job setting the mood for the album.
I'm sinking like a stone in the sea,
I'm burning like a bridge for your body
Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades
This was the second first single from the album, the title is taken from Latin "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" which means "Thus passes the glory of the world". The song is about a girl forcing a guy to partake in the act of fornication, and the lyrics are well written to convey this quite well. Musically, it kicks straight in with a heavy bass line, which serves the song very well, the drums are then the main accompaniment to the verses, and no guitars are actually heard until the chorus, which is a quite passionate bout of singing, before sinking back into the verses. It transitions really well, and the way most of the song is sang is really good, using two tracks of Lacey's voice, which sounds like he is responding to himself.. it's hard to explain, you'll just have to listen. The song ends in a scream of "die young and save yourself.."
I will play my Games beneath the Spin Light
To begin with, it is an acoustic track, the guitar gently being strummed while Lacey sings, with the drums coming in twenty seconds in, then it mashes into proper Brand New, the guitars and all, Lacey's voice double-tracked, which sounds ethereal. The songs lyrics seem to tackle the music business, and Lacey's attitude to it, being tired from touring, and the chorus, which speaks of not wanting to sell out. The blending of acoustic and rock works really well, and adds some extra feeling to the song.
Watch me as I cut myself wide open
on this stage. Yes, I am paid to spill my guts
I won't see home till spring
Oh, I would kill for the Atlantic,
but I am paid to make girls panic while I sing
Okay, I believe you but my Tommy Gun don't
Straight in at the end of the previous track, another song with a punchy bass line leading it, with Lacey singing over, his voice, sounds resilient, and a slight echo can be heard behind it, which again adds more feeling to his lyrics. At the end of the first verse, the guitar comes in, and it's a really great riff, which is played sounding almost muted, the faint sounds of the changing chords on the frets can be heard, giving the song a raw sound.
This has always been one of my favourite songs, and is a perfect break-up song, the lyrics carrying meaning, and the music packing passion by the bucket load.
The Quiet Things that No-one Ever Knows
My favourite track, and the first single from the album. Opening with two guitars, and a magical riff that gets stuck deep in your mind, from the first sound of the guitars, you know there is going to be some passion in the song, and passion with a capital P. But the first verse doesn't convey this, it becomes a bit more like the songs on "Your Favourite Weapon", but as soon as it gets to the chorus - the P is back, with the two tracked lyrics, the roaring guitar riff and all the passion you can pack into the 24 seconds you can think of, it then carries the feeling on into the next verses, quite like a calm before the storm, you can feel in the guitar, that there is more coming up, leading to a crescendo of the next chorus.
So keep the blood in your head!
And keep your feet on the ground!
Today's the day it gets tired!
Today's the day we drop down!
Give up my body in bed!
All for an empty hotel!
Wasting words on lowercases and capitals!
The Boy Who Blocked his Own Shot
Another song which begins as an acoustic, but this lasts right up until the end. Lacey's voice, again carrying a soft passion. This was one of my favourite tracks, mainly when I broke up with my girlfriend, which was when I was first getting into Brand New. The song carries a different passion to the previous song, it's soft, gentle, like being defeated, which plays a bit in the lyrics. Toward the middle of the song, the music changes, an extra guitar is added, so it becomes much less acoustic, but the original sound is still there, the effect this has, is like adding an extra dollop of feeling straight into the song.
Lyrically, it covers a break up, while most of it could be able any relationship, it becomes more clear that it's a romantic relationship with the last lines. Lacey is trying to make everything easier on the girl, saying what he'd do to make it easier.
If it makes you less sad,
I'll move out of this state.
You can keep you yourself.
I'll keep out of your way.
Jaws Theme Swimming
Not one of my favourite tracks from the album, it just doesn't deliver the same punch as a lot of the others, and sounds a bit, dare I say it, "samey". It does possess a nice little guitar riff to begin with, which fades into the song to be lost amongst the rest of the music. The lyrics are pretty good, it seems to speak about how things change when you grow up, but in my opinion, the delivery of the track isn't as good as it could have been, leading to a weak song.
Me vs Maradona vs Elvis
The first song I ever heard of Brand New, it still sits up in my favourites. It starts with soft guitar chords, and Jesse Lacey singing so softly over it that you can hear his lips opening and closing. His voice carries some bass to it, which compliments the only musical accompaniment of the guitar. The song succeeds in carrying the most passion from the album, from really strong soft passion in the start, to the capital P passion near the end. With just two minutes to go, the guitars rev up, and it's into the style of Brand New that is known. The guitar strumming has gone, replaced with a gentle riff and roars, a deep bass, and some drums. The small refrain from earlier in the song, that was whimpered, is now bellowed out, completely changing the feeling of it. Soon, the song just fades out...
Lyrically, it directly speaks about getting with a drunken girl. While it is inferred it is taking advantage, there is then the idea that maybe it isn't since it is pretty much what was on her mind all along.
Another great song is in the midst. The music is catchy, quite upbeat, and Lacey's voice, yet again double tracked, cuts above the music perfectly. When you get to the bridge, the music slows, and Lacey's voice calms down, similar to the volume of Me. vs Maradona vs Elvis. Then the chorus hits, and its typical Brand New, with some passion well interjected.
The song is actually about Jesse Lacey's granddad, who was diagnosed with lung cancer, and that when he found out he was miles and miles away, and just wanted to be home with him.
I'm not letting you check out
You will beat this starting now and you will always be around
I'm there to monitor your breathing
I will watch you while you're sleeping
I will keep you safe and sound
Good to know that if I ever need Attention all I have to do is Die
Some weird sounds start this song, like alien spacecrafts... then the guitars and drums enter, a slow, constant beat, with a clever riff, which flows nicely, before Lacey starts singing, then there is just some general chords played in the back, and a very slow, spaced bass line. The chorus takes the pace up a bit, but not as much of a transition as in other songs, and there is not as much passion in the vocals at all. There is a great break down in the middle of the song, which is an amazing combination of guitars, bass and all that jazz, if they made that into a song itself it would be incredible, after another chorus, the song fades out to the same riff...
Play Crack in the Sky
A real acoustic from start to finish. Just Jesse and his guitar. Musically, it is nothing extravagant, simple chords, strummed in good timing which keeps the song flowing well. But where this song really excels, is the emotion in the voice. The lyrics, directly speak of a ship sinking, but as with all Brand New, there tends to be more to the lyrics than first meets the eye, but I still haven't worked out exactly what its suppose to mean. It's a calming song, and with 2 minutes left, the song is multi-tracked, an extra verse embedded behind another, which sounds like music, but you can just follow both lines at the same time, it's really quite intensely packed in.
My Opinion Then
It was the first Brand New album I had ever heard, it was my complete introduction to the band, the album that made me a fan. The album has some real highlights, tracks like "Quiet things.." and "Okay I believe..." are awesome, they carry heaps of passion and feeling, they are well choreographed and just work so well.
Brand New have encompassed two great techniques to enhance there songs, firstly is the multi-tracked vocals. On a number of songs, you can hear that either the main verses are double-tracked, or that there is extra vocals behind the main. It adds so much depth, enhancing the song ten fold. They then have the brilliant ability, to be able to mix different sounds, but keeping them all distinguishable. In some of the chorus' or the breakdown in "Good to know..." you can hear several guitar riffs, bass lines, all held together by a forceful drum beat, and you can listen carefully, and hear each individual piece, perfectly complimenting the others, creating a wall of sound that can just flow over you. It really adds to the passion in the vocals.
On the whole, I don't think this album is as good as there follow up album, 'The Devil and God are Raging inside me", purely because it doesn't contain as consistent a run of great songs, and it isn't the album that is top of my playlists. However some of the songs are the best Brand New have created, they just don't quite pack the same punch, compare for example my favourites from each album - "Quiet Things.." and "Degausser", it would always be the latter I go for, it has so much more feeling behind it, and shows the band have further evolved.
What makes Brand New able to continue so well, is that their sound evolves through the albums, from the punky starts of 'Your Favourite Weapon', to this, and then onto a deeper 'Devil and God..', I just can't wait until the new album is out later in the year!
Do I recommend this? Certainly, it is a good album, much better than many others on the market, but if you had to buy just one Brand New album, then no, this wouldn't be what I'd suggest.
You can pick it up for just £6.99 from www.hmv.co.uk
1 - Tautou - A wonderfully short song, with the simple lyrics "i'm sinking like a stone in the sea" and very little else sung in this short 1:42 song that has both sophistication and emotion buried deep within it. The title is believed to come from
'Tautology (logic), a statement of propositional logic which holds for all truth values of its atomic propositions' - source Wikipedia
and also Jesse Laceys love of the actress Audrey Tautou
2 - Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades - believed to be from the latin phrase Sic Transit Gloria Mundi meaning - "Thus passes the glory of the world" and linked to the strong sexual references in the song. The song tells of a boy being pressured into loosing his virginity and the fear behind it. A truly powerful and emotional song with stunningly clever lyrics and varied speeds to show the emotions being felt.
Note: Jesse reverses the rolls when singing "she is the lamb he is the slaughter" live (she for he and vice versa)
3. I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light - This song is very guitar driven with another set of clever lyrics and a beat guaranteed to make you bounce in the mosh pits. This song seems to tell of the frustration of being away from home so much touring and is a nice insight into Jesse's feelings "i would kill for the atlantic but i am paid to make girls panic"
4. Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don't - title from the movie shown in Home Alone 2, another really nice, dark and hate filled song at times that fits perfectly after its predecesor and helps the album flow wonderfully.
5. The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows - the start still makes me go cold, amazing song that is probably THE song the band are really known for. Catchy simple riff, great lyrics and a hell of a set of lungs off Jesse.
6. The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot - a really touching song said to be about Jesses childhood. Lyrics like "if it makes you less sad, i'll die by your hand" and a simple guitar riff sitting in the background really bring out the emotion in this wonderful song.
7. Jaws Theme Swimming - "...my body it leaks like a sieve" - this is one of my favourite tracks on the album, the haunting repetetive beat and wave like vocals really help this song to stand out in my opinion.
8. Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis - another soft and acoustic style song for the majority that doesn't feel like it's going anywhere but still is nice enough. The build to the ending though really surprises you in a good way and picks the songs tone up a step.
9. Guernica - get the tissues ready, this song is powerful enough without the meaning, with a haunting riff and the melancholic vocals. The song builds up to a powerful chorus that stop starts throughout wonderfully.
The title refers to the town of Guernica that was bombed during the war despite not being an active part of it. It links further in that Jesses grandfather died of cancer which is really the heart of the song, the unfairness and cruelty of the disease "if i could i would shrink myself, sink through to your blood cells, remove whatever makes you hurt, but i am too weak to be your cure"
10. Good to Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Have to Do Is Die - title refers to Jesses friend who supposedley read he had died somewhere and rang him to which Jesse replied, "ah, good to know.....". Another great song that has the same formula as the majority of the album, haunting vocals and riffs which build to powerful choruses.
11. Play Crack the Sky - Guitar driven, acoustic style song that once again has a very dark feel to it, talking of love being a risk and has frequent nautical references.
--- Summary ---
One of my Top 10 all time albums, a stunning album both lyrically and musically. This band is stunning live and is highly underappreciated by many.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades
3 I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin Light
4 Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't
5 The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows
6 The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot
7 Jaws Theme Swimming
8 Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis
10 Good To Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Have To Do Is Die
11 Play Crack The Sky