Release Date: 02.18.03
Record label: Triple Crown
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
For That Brand New (Unoriginal) Sound
by: jonathan baran
Didn't I just review this CD? I swear just last week I listened to this exact same album, except this time it didn't sound quite as good. Wait... this band is called Brand New? Boy is my face red, I could swear it was Taking Back Sunday again. Maybe I was confused because the lead singer used to play guitar in TBS, or maybe it's because John Nolan from TBS used to play bass for the band. Or maybe it's simply because, "For a while back there we copied Taking Back Sunday," a quote from lead singer Jesse taken directly from the bands website. Ironically, or perhaps obviously, for a band with the name of Brand New there seems to be almost no attempt whatsoever to produce anything that sounds the least bit original.
The highlights of this album are the quirky, sometimes nonsensical song titles such as "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad", "Last Chance to Lose Your Keys", and "Logan to Government Center". Unfortunately the fun ends once the songs actually kick in and the banal and unimaginative pop-punk begins.
Musically, Brand New offers up the typical cut-and-paste collage of any other current pop-punk band, and lyrically Brand New strives for that same "dark yet sensitive" vibe that Taking Back Sunday has. While TBS would never be mistaken for a group of rock prodigies they at least manage to hit a few high points on their way to rock mediocrity, something Brand New never attains. As far as I can tell all the lyrics are either taken directly out of an 8th graders diary or are a failed attempt to write free form prose.
For example the song "Mixtape" opens with "I got a twenty dollar bill that says no one's ever seen you with out make up, you're always made up...this is the first song for your mix tape, and it's short just like your temper". On the opener "The Shower Scene" it's nearly impossible not to laugh at the repeated line "It's time for you to choose, the bullet or the chapstick". To keep things symmetrical the closing song exclaims that "I'm gonna stay 18 forever so it can stay like this forever and we'll never miss a party 'cause we keep them going constantly...it's all been done and it's all been said, we're the coolest kids."
In the end, Brand New could not care less about what some smug rock critic thinks as long as all those sentimental 18 year olds out there not wanting their party to end keep coming back for more, but even for that demographic Your Favorite Weapon is at best boring and uninspired. No matter how repetitive and simple pop-punk can be it can still be a delightfully fun genre with its distorted guitars and fun melodies, but Brand New just always seems so dull on the album. The guitars rarely ever belt out anything "mosh-worthy" and their idea of a catchy chorus is "This isn't high school, this isn't high school, this isn't high school" (from the "Last Chance To Lose Your Keys"). Perhaps if the band stayed true to their name and stepped out of their punk pigeonhole for a minute they would not have quite so many problems.
On what is certainly the best song on the album, "The No Seat Belt Song", there is an all to brief experimentation with some electronic back beats and melodic guitars and it provides a great oasis from the rest of the album. The band likes to cite their frenetic live show as an advertisement for the band and if that's true it's a shame that that sound did not transfer over on CD. All that comes across is Taking Back Sunday without all the energy and raw emotion, which doesn't leave you with much. I'll end with an unintentional moment of self realization from the band on "The Shower Scene"; "Nothing you do is new to anything or anyone but you."
31-Mar-2003 3:38 PM