Reading time: 5 mins
By Alice Austin
8 years is a long time for one fandom to wait for a new album. In a world where we’re constantly connected to everyone – family, friends, favourite artists, the President – Brand New has kept their online interactions to a minimum. So when they announced that a ‘limited vinyl’ of their new album is available to pre-order this week, it sold out pretty much instantly.
Yesterday at around 1pm those who’d successfully pre-ordered Brand New’s album on vinyl received a mysterious package in the post.
A CD, it turns out. The CD had one song, 61 minutes and 27 seconds long titled “44.5902N104.7146W.” Upon closer investigation these coordinates lead to the Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming.
Last year the band announced they would be releasing a new album in 2016. However, in September they bowed out of that verbal agreement, stating “While there exists a collection of songs that, right now, some would call fit to be an album, to us it is not complete enough, refined enough, or edited thoroughly enough to be something we would call finished or essential.”
That collection of songs – complete, refined and essential, is what has just been released in one of the most low-key, perfectly hyped and mysterious album releases I’ve ever seen. They also added that when they tour this year they’ll be playing The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me in full, because it’s been 10 years since its release and it’s still seminal.
The artwork for the new album has been designed by graphic artist design duo Morning Breath, aka Doug Cunningham and Jason Noto. The pair originally worked as the in-house department of Think Skateboards in San Francisco before joining forces to create an award-winning boutique studio located in Brooklyn, NY.
My love of Brand New goes back a long way. I first listened to Deja Entendu when I was 13 at my step-mum’s house in South Africa. I would lie in bed at night and press play on my portable CD player and listen to the album from start to finish. I remember a physical reaction; I remember feeling the anguished, harmonised vocals and searing guitars right in my bones.
I relished each song. I would close my eyes and truly listen. No iPhone to check, no emails to read, no distractions. I would absorb the glory that was Deja Entendu, drinking it in through my ears. As I listened I would wonder about the band. What their bedrooms looked like, whether they practiced in one of their garages. I’d pay attention to their accents. I’d ponder how very different their lives were to mine. How creative they were, probably because they grew up in New York State suburbia, not South London with the endless distraction of club nights and Strongbow and getting mugged on the way home from school. What was their journey to school like? Did they live next door to each other? Were they popular? What’s their group of friends like? What did they do at the weekends? Despite them being 10 years my senior I imagined them as teenagers.
In 2015 I went to Primavera in Barcelona. Brand New were the first act I saw there. I arrived just as they walked on stage, one of the more intimate stages of the festival. I stood at the back, prepared to listen to some of my favourite songs for the first time in a while. Jesse Lacey’s silhouette stood black and illuminated against a bright light, his guitar a dark shape against his shadow.
I didn’t think, for one second, that the opening chords of “Guernica” would open up a torrent of memories so vivid it was as though I’d travelled back in time. My very youth; the smell, the sounds, the feels of the 13-year-old that closed her eyes and absorbed Deja Entendu, awoke and took over my body for the duration of Brand New’s set. In other words, I lost my shit. Each song brought back floods of nostalgia, with the energy of the band, their awesome silhouettes, matching mine and everyone around me. There I was thrashing, jumping, screaming along to lyrics I thought I’d forgotten in a self-abandon that I didn’t realise I was capable of and haven’t experienced since.
I emerged 1.5 hours after those first opening notes, blinking and overwhelmed. I could barely believe what had just happened. Calm, collected, 25-year-old me who’d sauntered over to see that band I used to love had been possessed by the teenager I used to be in an out-of-body experience, of sorts. I was so emotional I burst into tears.
So, yeah, pretty excited about Brand New’s tour and album. Would recommend seeing them if you get a chance.