While aspects may be trite, the band still expresses a lot of heart.
Chris Beanland 2009
‘Emo’ is a term completely cut off from its original context. These days the word sticks in the throat, people preferring to swallow a bag of nails than listen to the soft-hearted punk that passed for emo in the early 00s. But the bashing the genre has received recently is purely a product of new recruits to the cause and their misery-riddled rock. Several summers ago, things were very different.
But can we overdose on nostalgia? If one hears Brand New’s fourth studio album, Daisy, and wishes they were instead listening to the New York act’s second album, the landmark Deja Entendu – a ‘proper’ emo record to those of a certain age, released in 2003 – are they guilty of overly romanticising the past?
Perhaps. But Deja Entendu is unquestionably a better album than this new collection.
So what does Daisy have to offer? Lyrically, it’s the story of Brand New vocalist Jesse Lacey getting older and transferring his neuroses onto different objects. There’s evidence aplenty of trademark Brand New angst-rock, but rather than being catchy and cathartic like earlier arrangements, the songs here are more sombre and reflective.
There are a couple of big, snappy songs that demand you sit up – lead single At the Bottom is a prime example. But, weirdly, this track stands out mainly because it sounds a bit like Modest Mouse – by expanding their palette, Brand New may have lost some of their own identity.
Both band and album will mean a lot to younger listeners who appreciate Lacey’s interest in grief and loss, and for some there will be genuine therapeutic value in this – Brand New continue to represent the sensitive face of emo, the strain most easily mocked by cynics. But while aspects of Daisy may indeed be trite, Lacey and company still express a lot of heart.
Even though they’ve self-consciously tried to grow up musically and ditched the sound that their first wave of fans loved, chances are that even the most initially dismissive listener will find a soft spot for Brand New’s current clutch of bruised confessionals.