Reviewing albums isn't an especially technical task. Anyone can do it. But, when you are piecing together your thoughts for an album review, there is a lot to be concerned about. Mainly, will the words put down on paper (or in this case, a computer screen) be an adequate representation of the music contained on the album? More times than not, they aren't. I'm not going to lie - I'd rather the people that read the reviews I write just listen to the album and decide for themselves. But alas, I have taken on the challenge of being a part-time music critic. So here are my thoughts on the major label debut from Brand New, The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me.
When a band of Brand New's caliber releases an album like Deja Entendu, there are going to be a lot expectations for the follow-up release. The questions asked most, though, are: "What will it sound like?" and "Will it top their last album?" Brand New achieved marginal success with their pop-punk/rock formula on Your Favorite Weapon. They refined their sound, infusing it with a broader spectrum of influences. The product was Deja Entendu. The success of that album was immense - there is no way else to describe it besides monumental. For The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, Brand New could have taken the easy way out in a number of ways. They could have reverted back to that pop-punk band. They could have written Deja Entendu over again, attempting to replicate the success of their sophomore effort. They could have written simple and cheesy songs lacking in originality and attempted to ride the waves of their past success ala Weezer. But Brand New did not take any of those paths. They opted to retain their artistic credibility and write their new album for no one else but themselves.
"Sowing Season" is the closest thing that we will hear to the Brand New sound that most fell in love with on Deja Entendu. For the first track, Jesse Lacey and company have pieced together a song that draws on select elements that made their previous album so popular. The song's structure is not unlike the fan-favorite "Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't." It fluctuates between soft verses with spare instrumentation and a heavy rock-oriented chorus with a huge hook. Throw into the mix Lacey's usual blunt yet tongue-in-cheek lyrics and its no wonder the song was the album's first single.
"Millstone" opts for a slightly different direction. The music is subdued throughout; the interweaving guitars provided by Lacey and Vincent Accardi evokes an almost post-rock sound. Brian Lane's drumming is nowhere near the pace of the pop-punk version of Brand New; instead its place in the song's arrangement has been carefully selected. Lacey's delivery alternates between the sung and softly spoken words. "Jesus" is quite similar to the preceding track in structure, but the mood has been shifted to ultra-chill. "Degausser" is quite an interesting song. I can't say I found the first half of the song and its Bright Eyes'-inspired sound all that endearing, especially the group vocals. But the second half definitely had my ears peeked to full attention, especially the guitar interplay and dual-natured vocals.
"Limousine (MS Rebridge)" reaches out beyond the seven-minute mark. When was the last time you heard a major label wonder-band expected to move massive units writing songs of this length? The song is complimented by the use of acoustic guitars, not only during the opening sequence, but also throughout the entire song. The way the electric and acoustic play off each other is magical, it's as though they're engaged in a dance. The effect-laden guitars in the middle of the song and towards the end really added a whole other level to the song.
"You Won't Know" sees the band awakening from their semi-slumber as the intensity in the songwriting returns. This intensity isn't force or aggression; it is filled with passion and is a progressive, albeit Radiohead-esque, nature to the music. The song truly demonstrates the maturity in the songwriting of The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me. Further proof can be found within the instrumental piece "Welcome to Bangkok." Is this really the same band that wrote "The Shower Scene"?
The upbeat pace hinted at on "You Won't Know" becomes fully evident on "Not the Sun." The song has an omni-present new-wave mood of The Cure underlying it - most notably in the bass playing of Garrett Tierney. Unfortunately, that mood quickly fades with "Luca," which falls off the pace for nearly the entire song. I'm all for the more sophisticated Brand New, but this song just dragged on for far too long. Which brings us to "--." This is a complete throwaway song; it does nothing to further this album at all.
The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me concludes with two strong tracks. "The Archers Bows have Broken" returns to that mix of 80's pop and indie rock as heard on "You Won't Know." "Handcuffs" is the only song on the album to solely written by Accardi, just another twist from a band distinquishing themselves from the flock. I felt this to be the perfect conclusion to this album; it encompasses everything about this band and album that makes them so unique. Just listen and you can't help but agree.
So I've answered that first question in regards to what The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me sounds like. As for the second, that is a question that I cannot answer for you. Save your pennies up, head to your local record store, and purchase a copy. Listen, enjoy (or don't), and form your own opinion.
8.0 / 10
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