Deja Entendu, by Brand New
Suggested by Craig Scott
Brand New are behind the 8-ball from the start.
Number one on their Con List is the fact that the band were officially Not A Hit In The UK. While their later albums topped the charts in America and elsewhere, the best they managed in Good Old Blighty was a measly 47th position for their fourth album Daisy. Deja Entendu, their second, charted at 105, although it spawned two singles that barely scraped into the Top 40.
The second Con is the fact that Brand New are Emo. In fact, they’re more than simply Emo. They are lauded as Emo patriarchs, Emo kings, maybe even Emo GOATs. And if I’m honest, I’m not even sure what Emo is.
According to Wiki, Emo is a rock music genre characterized by an emphasis on emotional expression, sometimes through confessional lyrics. It has an offshoot called Screamo, which is the same but with screaming. Presumably there are further offshoots called JimBeamo (the same but drunk), Breamo (the same but with added fish), and A-Teamo (the same but not getting on no plane).
As for a Brand New Pro List, it’s woefully short. I quite like the astronaut on the album cover, and the convoluted song titles raise a smile, but that’s it.
So, how is it, musically? There’s a percussive crispness to Deja Entendu that creates an unexpected sense of cleanliness. It’s a well-produced package, with indie stumming and popping bass. Vocally, it’s the standard high pitched and emotionally crippled white boy complaining about a plethora of ills and ailments. There’s little drive, but it is somewhat attractive, a mellow reflection rather than a rousing rowdy rabble. The verses build to an acceptable and generic chorus structure that showcases the usual indie Harmonised Shouting that seemed all the rage at the turn of the century.
The songs themselves are pretty enough, but they’re standard fare. There are comparisons to Weezer in places, which is to be expected, but there’s a sense of Green Day and Busted and a more pop-punk sound in tracks like The Quiet Things That No-One Ever Knows and the enjoyable Guernica. At the other end of the scale, there’s a downbeat feel to the slower numbers such as Me vs Maradona vs Elvis. These songs have solid emotive cores, and offer a change of pace that keeps the album interesting on a surface level, but they do leave me a little cold in their execution. I’m sure they are deeply personal and resonant, but to be frank I’m not particularly arsed.
As for a favourite track, I’d give it to the vocally adventurous Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades, which has an exciting layered mumble-rap verse before building into an almost metal sounding angry chorus.
On reflection, there is some merit to this album, despite my initial misgivings. I can stretch to a 6/10 score, but no higher. There’s nothing ground-breaking here, and if I’m chasing this particular sound I’d find it on a plethora of better-known works than this.