Brand New - Daisy
Chris Tapley 30/09/2009
Upon the release of their 2001 debut album it's unlikely that many would have been able to foresee Brand New reaching the position in which they now find themselves, with mass hysteria (well, the indie equivalent) and blanket critical acclaim awaiting their every move. It was an album that, whilst catchy enough, was bogged down with an overwrought sense of immaturity and teenage angst. The two albums which followed though revelled in musical evolution, discarding the pop punk approach and moving on to something much darker, dripping with melancholy, intensity and melodrama. As such there's been much speculation and anticipation as to what they will serve up on Daisy, their fourth LP.
The record begins with Vices, probably the bands biggest departure to date and perhaps as baffling an opening as one could imagine; starting with a vintage sample of a solo female singing over delicate piano. Then just as you've been lured in to a false sense of security it's rudely interrupted by the crash of thunderous noise. Jesse Lacey pushing his voice to breaking point with blood curdling screams straight from the off, the guitar clouded in reeling feedback reminiscent of Fugazi. It's a bold opener, and for these first few minutes it seems as though this may well be Brand New's crowning statement, potentially even their parting masterpiece, their "Shape of Punk to Come". The dust quickly settles though, and second track Bed is far more familiar territory, with Lacey proclaiming "I'm a prophet and I speak in tongues" over a blanket of intersecting guitars. Though normally one would expect this track to build gradually to a monolithic wall of noise, they defy expectations by allowing it peter out; somewhat of a disappointment after the heart-stopping opener. Of course it's not that long since tracks like these were an exciting new direction for the band, it now seems a bit like Brand New by numbers. This feeling rises a few times throughout the album and it's hard to avoid referring to tracks such as Bed and lead single At the Bottom as filler, the latter particularly is over reliant on their tried and tested quiet/loud dynamics crutch.
Whilst there is familiar stuff here, there are also several bold attempts at incorporating different styles, and this is what elevates Daisy beyond a decent record. Spanning the sonic spectrum, it also becomes an interesting record; the sound of a band making the music they want to. Vices ferocity recalls Refused or even Rites of Spring, displaying a much more hardcore influence in a throng of reeling guitars, palpitating drums and screams. These hardcore elements surface several times, the other most notably effective being Sink. The title track shows a development of more ambient soundscapes juxtaposing their normally dense sound. A sample of a child's voice lends the track a calm, ethereal tone, something that can't often be said of their work, barring perhaps Tautou, and it works incredibly well. Be Gone combines a southern country soaked riff with strangulated vocals reminiscent of Isaac Brock, though they're so heavily distorted that it's impossible to make out any lyrics. There are a few points throughout Daisy where the band play with raw noise like this, such as the end of Gasoline which has a wall of electronic noise one would be more inclined to expect from the likes of Aphex Twin. All of these tangents combine to provide what may not be the band's most immediate or even likeable record, but certainly their most textured and adventurous to date.
Daisy is very much the convergence of past and future for this band, familiar blueprints of their style are prevalent in songs like Bed and You Stole, but these sit comfortably alongside experimentations such as Be Gone or Daisy. Yet again this album has served to fuel the fire of anticipation over just what they're going to do next. On the evidence of this it seems that they are progressively moving further and further away from the scene that spawned them and in to creating increasingly esoteric sonic palettes. This will undoubtedly annoy many. I find it incredibly exciting.
Whilst far from being the definitive statement that many hoped it would, Daisy has still served to reinforce Brand New's increasingly recognised position as one of the most important alternative rock bands in the world today.
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