“America finally gets it’s own Radiohead” – Alternative Press, 2006
“Hey Brand New fans…you’ll love this. You can sing Lightening Bolt by Jake Bugg over the verses of their new single. Enjoy” – Jimmy Watkins (Future of the Left guitarist), 2015
I discovered Brand New around the time ‘Deja Entendu’ came out. Despite having songs called things like ‘Good To Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Have To Do Is Die’ and ‘Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t’, which were the emo style of the time, the album has gone on to be considered something of a classic of it’s kind. Not as poppy as ‘Bleed America’, not as nerve-shreddingly heavy as ‘Worship and Tribute’ but lyrically Jesse Lacey was being compared to Morrissey, Elvis Costello and Richey James at a time when the British music press trying to convince itself that The Strokes second album was brilliant and Jet weren’t embarrassing dad-rock pish.
Then came the ‘grown up album’ The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. I was hooked. Album on Discman player on repeat, sore throat from attempting to sing along in the flat, the whole bit. Even wore the band’s merch to some of Aberdeen’s less classy meat markets. One girl pointed and laughed at my tee. The album was compared to ‘The Bends’, the band described as America’s Radiohead. What would they do next? Well, ‘Daisy’ came out and it was if they’d just skipped straight to ‘Hail To The Thief’. It was GOOD, you recognised it as the same band, the familiar tricks were there plus some ‘experimentation’ but it was just a bit….grey.
My fanboy love peaked at Glastonbury in 2009, as I stood with a few hundred sleep deprived souls watch a band that looked like they’d spent two weeks in a van tear through mostly new material and finish with a (actually brilliant) cover of Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘Oh Comely’. And that was it. We went our separate ways, me home via Megabus and Brand New to an eventual split with Interscope.
Six years later, I stumbled across news of their new single via Jimmy Watkin’s Twitter and manfully tried to stream it on the perfunctory wifi of a North Sea oil rig. And on first listen it was perfunctory. After the exciting drum roll intro, it sort of gallops along until the chorus when Jesse Lacey throws in a few screams before the hook line of “We don’t feel anything”. Brand New are no strangers to some angsty sloganeering. (e.g. “Die young and save yourself” from ‘Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades’) But usually this is more than the most interesting thing about their music.
‘Mene’ is a short, energetic punkish burst, maybe meant as a ‘hey, we’re still here’ flag rather than any sort of big artistic statement. I’m hoping they’re saving the best for a forthcoming album. It sounds like I’m shitting on this track a bit. I’m just saying it doesn’t stack up when compared to previous high points. But then those high points are pretty fucking high. This is a band that inspires devotion. I’m prepared to go along for the ride again. We’re not going to get an ‘OK Computer’ but let’s hope we avoid an Atoms for Peace.
‘Mene’ is available now. Video, news, tour dates etc. can be found at www.fightoffyourdemons.com