There is a high chance that what Brand New have put out is probably a very well written and unexpected goodbye letter. It’s been 8 years since the band’s last record Daisy, but they are finally back. A couple of singles out in 2016, some hints about a probable break-up, and surprisingly, the band is back with their long time desired fifth record. All these elements enshrine the plausible final exit from the music scene for them. Unconventionally, the record does not contain any of the tracks the band released during the course of last year.
The record opens with a gloomy tape recording in which the voice of an exhausted patient, reminiscing the dream she had in the morning, touches upon depression and solitude after an extremely long therapy, themes very dear to the rumored bipolar lead singer Jesse Lacey. “I don’t mind having all this going on inside me. It’s sort of…I think I’m going to be relieved when it’s over. When I can sort of settle back down.” explains. Clearly seems like a reference to the way that Jesse learned to deal with his mental illness. “Lit Me Up” sets the mood for the following to come, indeed.
As a matter of fact, and not surprisingly, the whole record is permeated by the consequences of Jesse’s apparent bipolar disorder on his life and also on the band’s music, known for his melancholic and downhearted lyrics. Last track “Batter Up” is a perfect example of how depression can be temporarily frozen but is actually always behind the corner. And even tough he has a positive message to spread and has the will to deliver it, it’s very easy to do it in the wrong way and spoil everything.
Science Fiction can be considered as Brand New’s mature record, being less angry and more quiet , opening to a wide introspective ground. There’s no room for dominant screams as in their 2009’s effort or as in The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. This is a time for slow thoughts over essential instrumentals instead of discouraged screams over powerful and weighty moments. Every single track has it’s very own space and none of them sound as a filler. Gorgeous crescendos and growing atmospheres though are still an extremely strong element which their music gravitates around.
Everything (starting from the cover) is well crafted and melancholic presenting lyrics with their typical religious undertones: “When I grow up I want to be a heretic, I want to climb over the walls, I’m not on the list ”.“Same logic” is easily one of the best tracks off the record, with a spectral and slow paced guitar melody and vigorous drumming leading the song into a magnetic bridge.“137” recalls Nirvana’s riffing and adapts it to a beautiful slowcore piece of music. “In The Water” , probably the song with the saddest vibes of the album, has a beautiful bridge, adorned with a pink floydesque vibe.
What they explore on this record is almost a new field for them. More acoustic-oriented, which seems to be the natural development of Brand New at this stage of their career. As it was for Daisy when they took elements from Deja Entendu and cut it to the bone, keeping the essential.
It’s an album embittered and frustrated, son of the trials of life and religious questions that Brand New always made sure to insert in their music, while maintaining the great melodies and songwriting of The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me. It uses all of these features as a bed for skeletal lyrics, with almost the total absence of screams and aggressive instrumental sections. To the delight of the fans, the record is also full of references to lyrics off their previous albums.
Therefore, Science Fiction is like an old friend coming to visit you after a bunch of years, that through the same smile he had as a kid, still cherishes the same memories as you do, but now he’s got a job and kids. One of this year’s most interesting alternative rock releases.