Brand New - The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me
Record Label: Interscope
Release Date: November 6, 2006
It may seem odd to review an album that came out seven years ago, but as I was browsing through this website, I only found two reviews, neither of which did this album justice (no offense). But is giving this album the praise it deserves really possible in a brief review? Probably not.
Although it's often attempted, it's rare to see such a personal album be so well received by a mass audience. The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me seems like an experiment for frontman Jesse Lacey to play with his personal demons, rather than to produce a record his fans will enjoy, and in there lies the difference between this album and many other bands - this album balances the two brilliantly while still leaning towards the former. Brand New, through almost nihilistic songwriting, lyrics and themes, brings forth a timeless album to bridge the gap between personal grief and public entertainment.
Every song on TDAGARIM has its own story to tell, and Brand New has evolved from Deja Entendu's poppy modern rock sound to reflect the content of the songs. Not to say their previous album was not mature, but TDAGARIM yields a new level of aggression and passion that is impossible to duplicate due to its personal nature.
This is made apparent from the very opening seconds of "Sowing Season" with Lacey sorrowfully reciting the loss of his friends ("Was losing all my friends"). The lulling guitars soon explode into a wall of agressive, melodic wails as we hear the simple cry of "Yeah." This kind helplessness and struggling is a reoccurring theme throughout the album. The guitars and drums work together to create exactly the kind of emotion Lacey wants you to feel while topping it off with his narrative. The guitars from "Sowing Season" are crying, the drums provide a heartbeat to it all, and Lacey seems to be riding along. "Millstone" will appeal to older Brand New fans, while still continuing the new sound of this album, combining a melodic and ear-catching chorus with its melancholy, while interestingly providing an overall emptier sound (though purposefully).
"Jesus Christ" is just a pretty song. Period. The instrumentation is minimal but the lyrics are what should be focused on by providing us with our most important clue as to the entire album's meaning. The song is the widest gateway into Lacey's mind, as he questions death and his own faith, hence the album name The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me. "Degausser" plays to its name, with Lacey attempting to say "goodbye" to many things, but he "can't shake this little feeling." The music itself is beautifully subdued, but naturally transitions into a booming chorus.
"Limousine (MS Rebridge)" is perhaps the most emotionally wretching track, telling the story of a young girl who died in a car accident. The story itself is googleable (if that's not a word, it is now) so I won't hark on that. Lacey's songwriting is up there with the best of the best with this song alone, and the genius of the instruments working so well with one another can make this an easy contender for the most powerful song of the album. "You Won't Know" falls into familiar territory with a slow and empty sounding guitar riff but soon explodes as if they just can't keep it in anymore. "Welcome to Bangkok" is a rather mysterious track being one of the two purely instrumental songs, bar the samples of someone speaking (not sure who), and acts as a transitions between the first part of the album and the second part. The other instrumental, "Untitled" comes later in the album and is less a song than it is a mystery.
"Not the Sun" and "Luca" both follow similar patterns of starting off slow and mild, then building tension and eventually bursting. It leaves the listener to explore into Lacey's lyrics to find his purpose. "The Archers' Bows Have Broken" has the most energy of any track by far and does not slow down, almost as if we are running on adrenaline at this point in the album. It transitions into the final track, "Handcuffs," which is the one of the most hauntingly honest songs you are likely to hear. It serves to sum up the entire journey we as listeners went through listening to the album, with apologetic cries of "It's hard to be the better man / When you forget you're trying."
I feel like I am eavesdropping when I listen to this album. The music seems like bait to hook on to, so I may be taken directly to Jesse Lacey's mind. The hook itself is brilliant, shiny, and enticing. Once I bite, however, I am taken into a dark, mysterious, and incredibly moving place. The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me is and forever will be the golden egg of Brand New's litter, and that is why I decided to write a review for an album that came out seven years ago to date.