Long Island’s Brand New are back with their sophomore release, Deja Entendu, an album that will instantaneously become one of your favorites. In 2000, they released Your Favorite Weapon, a good, yet obvious and somewhat cookie-cutter emo/punk album. The album showed little promise, and gave the impression that Brand New were nothing more than just another band in the crowd. With Deja Entendu, however, Brand New prove they are so much more.
Brand New have grown up, and have moved away from writing songs about vengeance towards ex-girlfriends. They now prefer carefully crafted tracks with poetic and dark lyrics. With deliberately placed riffs and breaks to complicated rhythms, they have passed far beyond simple 4-chord songs. “Okay I Believe You, But my Tommy Gun Don’t” is perhaps the best example, both lyrically and musically, of just how much Brand New have changed. The song begins with an eerily quiet bass line, over which Jesse Lacey sings: “I am heaven sent/ Don’t you dare forget…I think in decimals and dollars/ I am the cause to all your problems.” At times, Lacey sounds remarkably similar to Robert Smith, while at others he resembles Thursday’s Geoff Rickley.
On Deja Entendu, Brand New have clearly drawn from several influences, namely, as mentioned, the Cure and Thursday, as well as Morrissey, Glassjaw and even Coheed and Cambria. Yet, at the same time, there is a true sound on the album that draws from no influences, a sound that is wholly Brand New. Deja Entendu has put Brand New on the map. It has given them their own niche in the music world and a uniqueness that was lacking on Your Favorite Weapon. Deja Entendu maintains a perfect balance between forceful, driven tracks and acoustic, poetic ballads. Lacey’s lyrics are no longer straightforward and obvious. Rather they are cryptic and filled with detailed imagery (check out the lyrics to “Play Crack the Sky”). With song titles like “Good to Know that if I Ever Need Attention All I Have to Do is Die,” “The Boy who Blocked His Own Shot” and “Me vs. Maradonna vs. Elvis,” Brand New show that one thing they haven’t changed is their dry, witty sense of humor.
Deja Entendu is certainly one of the top ten albums of 2003. Gone are the days of pop-punk for Brand New. They have been replaced with a mature and distinct sound. If Deja Entendu is this good, there’s no telling what Brand New could accomplish on their next album.