I was 14 when I found Brand New. As a freshman in high school with hormones in full swing, I ate up every word on Your Favorite Weapon. I was equally transfixed by Deja Entendu. When “Sowing Season” began on The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me I was more floored than anything else. How has this band been able to completely reinvent themselves with every record? Daisy was no different, this band was once again a new band.
It’s pretty rare to have a band that grows with you. I’ve had a Brand New album for each major milestone in my life. Two albums in high school, two in college, one as a husband and father. Each of those seasons and times was filled with struggles and flux, and each met with something from Brand New.
Science Fiction is no exception. This album is full of personal and communal turmoil, with heaps of writhing and longing to be better (or healed). Themes found on Science Fiction seem like anything but fiction in today’s world. It feels more prophetic than fiction. “Desert” presents a protagonist easily associated with a protesting White-Nationalist from last week’s Charlottesville riots. “137” sounds a lot like what the world of “fire and fury” nuclear war would look like. Yet even better, Lacey is able to get underneath the reality of the human condition – all the longing (for hope) – and all the turmoil (at our inability) we feel. Not simply in times of potential nuclear threat, or marching of White-Nationalist, but daily. These two seemingly unreconcilable realities and pulls within our world define our daily struggle. Yet, they get after our deepest longings.
This album demonstrates the complexities that each of us has with God and ourselves. Personal turmoil is an easy theme of the album that begins with a therapy session. “Waste” is a wonderfully dark example of the reality of personal turmoil and demons. We’re “stuck like glue” to the parts of us that we hate so much, holding onto the tiniest glimmer of good at the continual plea, “don’t lose hope,” after all, “you are not alone.” Our daily lives are filled with the sense of personal turmoil that Science Fiction holds out so beautifully. That kind of writhing is known to each of us, at the dirt-floor basement-bottom. But this album isn’t all gloom, there are very real themes of hope threaded throughout.
A band that is incredibly adept at reinventing themselves and their sound may have left us all wondering if that same reinvention is possible in the world we inhabit. It doesn’t seem likely. But maybe what Brand New is after isn’t a reinvention, but a resurrection. That kind of newness all the writhing seems to be longing for is met with resurrection in a way that it could never be met with a reinvention. We needed the dark-reality-reminder from Brand New, and I’m not saying that as an enormous fan of this band, I’m saying that as a student of the human condition, as someone with the lowest possible anthropology.
If there was an album we needed this year it was Science Fiction. I confidently assert this to be the album of the year. Each of us hope to be brand new at the end of our days, our longings fixed on renewing or reinventing ourselves. In reality, we all need a little resurrection. Here’s to hoping for a resurrection for this band, who has promised to throw in the towel after this fall tour. But for those of us who are deeply aware of our faults and failures, I’ll let Jesse Lacey have the last word:
“I’m hoping that in time, you can lay down all this weight you’ve been carrying around, and maybe one day you’ll find your way to climb up out of your grave”
Must Listen List: Lit Me Up, Waste, 137, and Batter Up