Brand New, ‘The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me’ (Interscope)
When these Long Island thinkers released their second album, Deja Entendu, in the summer of 2003, it stood as one of the most promising artistic statements of the mainstreamo boom. With their bravely ambitious songs and Smiths-obsessed singer/guitarist Jesse Lacey, the band formed a deep connection with LiveJournal-authoring teens. And then…well, nothing. Brand New virtually disappeared a year after Deja Entendu’s release, its members retreating to the suburbs, where they slowly woodshedded their third album (and major-label debut).
So what’s changed in the interim? For one, Brand New no longer sound like a wounded emo band. In fact, they sound like a band that wants to plow your ass over with two dozen Marshall half stacks. The mall-ready hooks and occasional stabs at acoustic pop on Deja Entendu have been replaced by the sort of Radiohead-indebted bombast that begs to be played at lease-breaking volumes.
With “Luca” and “Millstone,” lead guitarist Vinnie Accardi manages to use every ridiculous effect pedal he’s got, but such excess perfectly suits these dense, proggy songs. No indulgent impulse goes ignored. And when Lacey joins in, wailing away on “Degausser,” going riff for riff with anything off The Bends, Brand New seem rightfully inspired by a bigger and bolder future.