Mary Dillard, Staff Writer
Brand New’s fifth and final album, Science Fiction, is the band’s first release since 2009’s Daisy. The album was much anticipated by the band’s fan base, and its release was at times doubtful based upon hints the band dropped during concerts.
The notoriously press-shy outfit stayed true to form and dropped the album almost completely by surprise, with little to no promotion, spare a few cryptic social media posts and an unexpected tour announcement. Fortunately, for fans of the vanguard band, the album’s quality speaks for itself.
At its core, Science Fiction is about lead vocalist Jesse Lacey’s war within himself. The album opens with a voice-over of a woman recounting a dream, “after 400 hours of intensive, individual therapy.” This line most likely references Lacey’s exhaustion at the responsibility he feels of being such an influence on his young fan base. This theme is prevalent throughout the opening track, “Lit Me Up” as Lacey sings in a hushed tone: “Lit me up and I burn from the inside out/ Yeah, I burn like a witch in a Puritan town.”
As the album progresses, one has the impression that Lacey is uncomfortable in a position of such enormous power and influence and often doesn’t feel worthy of it, “I thought I was a creator/ I’m here just hanging around”, he harmonizes on “Can’t Get It Out.”
One of the most lyrically poignant moments in Science Fiction comes from the track “Waste” when Lacey poetically longs for freedom, not only for himself but for the listener as well “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 on up out of your grave/ with the bits of you/you managed to save,” Lacey sorrowfully croons.
The lyrics on this album will immediately connect with anyone who might feel isolated or displaced. Brand New are famous for their eulogizing of the generational problems in song and Science Fiction is no exception. Overall, the first three songs do an excellent job of setting the tone for a dark, enigmatic thrill-ride of an album.
Science Fiction builds to its musical climax with the five-minute musical ‘monster’ that is “Same Logic/Teeth.” Lyrically, the song explores themes of self-loathing and remains relatively quiet until a howling third verse that harkens back to previous album, The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me.
The sing-song “137” explores Lacey’s morbid fascination with nuclear war and reaches its apex in a hellacious solo by lead guitarist Vincent Accardi.
The song “Desert”, through lyrical ‘role-playing’, tackles Christian hypocrisy regarding homophobia. Both this track and “137” have received some criticism online, but it is incredibly refreshing to see a band discuss issues like these in a unique manner.
“In the Water” breaks new ground musically inflecting some country undertones never heard in their discography.
Science Fiction is a fitting goodbye from a band who spent nearly two decades battling demons and giving fans a voice. Brand New is clearly tired and worn down from years of the “rock star” lifestyle, but loved their fans and supporters enough to put their absolute best foot forward one last time.
While they will be sorely missed, Brand New could not continue shouldering the emotional burdens of a generation of fans. For the future, Lacey is focusing on being a full-time father and husband.
Brand New’s Science Fiction is available in local record stores and online.