Picture it – The year is 2006. Angsty teenagers are expressing themselves through dark clothing and dark make up. Pete Wentz is the token pin-up boy for the ‘misfits’ and ‘outcasts’. Justin Timberlake brought Sexy back over in the pop scene. You can’t go anywhere without hearing Panic! At The Disco’s I Write Sins Not Tragedies and singing along to every word. Then there is Brand New – Releasing their third album The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me which was their first since the iconic Deja Entendu.
The alternative, effortlessly cool Jesse Lacey and co. backed up their 2003 hit record with a collection of musical and lyrical genius. Brand New were subdued in a world full of huge musical stars but their album – the first with Interscope Records – showed enough talent and promise to rival the mainstream icons. The record was rated the best album of 2006 by Punknews.org, and lead single Jesus became the band’s highest charting single.
The album begins with Sowing Season, titled as a reference from Stephen King’s Secret Window, Secret Garden. The song was the first single released from the record, beginning softly before exploding into the powerful “Yeah” chorus and infectious riffs. The back end of the track sees Lacey show off his unique vocals as he yells “I am not your friend/I am just a man who knows how to feel/I am not your friend/I’m not your lover/I’m not your family/Yeah!”
Next is the passionate and somewhat haunting Millstone, reflecting a guilty conscience as Lacey sings “Throw me that lifeline/This ship of fools I’m on will sink/I’m my own stone around my neck”. The use of instruments is complementary to the lyrics – dark and gritty as Lacey’s angsty voice shines through.
Jesus comes in third on the album and is quite possibly not just the record’s best song but one of the best from any Brand New record. The simple yet hypnotising riff lays the platform for the calm and sincere vocals which get louder and more intense towards the end. The repetition of the opening words “Jesus Christ” demand attention and keep the listener focused throughout the song.
Degausser follows and blends smooth vocals with Jesse’s raspy screams in a similar way to Sowing Season and reflecting a common style of the group’s music. The music matches the lyrics well, singing the more negative, self-defeating lyrics “I can’t shake this little feeling/I’ll never get anything right” in the distressed screaming voice and others more calmly “Take me, take me back to your bed/I love you so much that it hurts my head/I don’t mind you under my skin/I’ll let the bad parts in”.
A few songs later in the middle of the album comes You Won’t Know, a fiery centrepiece which peaks in intensity during the middle before simmering down and fading into the almost entirely instrumental Welcome to Bangkok.
The softly spoken vocals and honest lyrics of Luca start winding down the album, slowing the pace down into Untitled (also known as “—“). Luca begins with the bluntly honest lines “When I disappear/Do you fear the sister I took?/When I disappear/It is clear I am up to no good” with an acoustic based background before intensifying the instrumental side as the song goes on.
The Archers Bows Have Broken provides one last heavy, powerful song before the album ends with the gentle Handcuffs. The former is a wonderfully melodic tune with lots of energy and some killer guitar riffs. It is next to Jesus and Sowing Season as one of the album’s best in my opinion and could have served well as a single.
The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me is a brilliant album both musically and lyrically. It is full of meaning, energy and passion and I challenge anyone to listen to it and not be moved by at least one track. In my opinion, this is one of the best alternative records of the last decade and deserves at least as much attention as Deja Entendu.