Kristina Johnson Album Review When I first heard Brand New, I was sitting shotgun in my girlfriend's Toyota Cressida. I was a freshman in college, back home for Thanksgiving. She was a year younger, still stuck in high school, and the distance was hard on us. She said I was sure to love this song, and keyed up "Soco Amaretto Lime," the acoustic finale to BN's debut Your Favorite Weapon. As it ends, singer Jessie Lacey repeatedly shouts "you're just jealous cause we're young and in love." In that moment the distance and the fighting didn't matter, we were together, young, and in love. The release of The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me arrived almost five years from that moment. I've graduated college and moved on to the frantic Manhattan working world. Brand New released Deja Entendu in 2003 and has continued to expand their sound from its early pop-punk/emo origins into something much denser and darker. Brand New's earlier work was adored by fans for capturing the epic feelings of the small moments in life. Can their new work connect in the same way after a three-year hiatus? Many a punk band is striving for a more mature sound these days, but that usually just means they pen the same troubled tales in the past tense. That's not the case here. With The Devil, Jessie's lyrics have become increasingly poetic, opting for the abstract over the obvious. While earlier songs like YFW's "Jude Law and A Semester Abroad" were blatantly bitter send-offs to ex-girlfriends, new tracks like "Archers" and lead single "Sowing Season" deal with subjects like paranoia, politics, and the afterlife. They come through in lines like, "'cause the God I believed in worked on a campaign trail." There are still songs about love and girls, but just like life, there are more subjects to touch on after high school. Brand New certainly didn't have a sophomore slump. Deja Entendu, was highly acclaimed, a far more intricate and mature album than high-school penned YFW. The Devil is the next step in that progression, with the band shredding almost all elements of the dreaded emo tag. Vinnie, Garret, and Brian meld the distortions of Radiohead and Digital Ash-era Bright Eyes with the loud/soft dynamics of grunge bands. Then there are the new wave elements, and the old emo influences like Sunny Day Real Estate and Inside. But, unlike some of this year's identity thieves -- see The Killers, Jet -- Brand New meld all their influences to a sound that is, well, brand new. All while still sounding like themselves. Even with all the abstract, Brand New still finds the direct line to your heart. Lacey's lyrics will creep up in the slow songs and hit you hard on the rockers. "No matter what they say, I am still the king," Lacey tells us on the ominously layered "Degausser." The message is clear: Brand New is back to reign. With a batch of songs like these it will be hard to argue. - David Pessah, kNewIt06 When Brand New released Deja Entendu in mid-2003, it caught a lot of their fans off guard. It found the band taking a stylistic leap forward from the clever (albeit cookiecutter) pop-punk of their 2001 debut, exploring expanded sonic textures and indie rock overtones, their urgent choruses tempered by acoustic musings and softer introspections. It all seemed very deliberate yet completely natural all the same, and the record was an underground smash. Something even more substantial was definitely brewing beneath the band's emo façade, and as a result, Brand New's follow-up was hotly anticipated for the three years it took the band to release it. The resulting The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is the completion of their pop-punk molting process and one of the best surprises -- that isn't really a surprise at all -- to come out of 2006. Even when they were playing straightforward pop-punk ditties, Brand New had an edge to them that made them seem smarter than their peers; now they sound even older and stronger (and like they've been listening to a lot of '90s college and indie rock). This record is dark and dense, yet accessible, a shadowy air permeating every crevice where Jesse Lacey's plaintive and often tortured lyrics aren't already residing. He draws listeners in with vulnerable ruminations and questions of love, death, self, and religion, and his vocal inflections bring as much meaning to the table as his carefully chosen words. The opening "Sowing Season" ebbs and flows steadily, moving along under light guitar before exploding with percussion, Lacey ably switching from a hushed delivery into an anguished cry of emotion before falling back down again effortlessly. With it, Brand New sets up the somber intensity of the record straightaway. Textural and sonic layers unfold at every turn -- punching drums and trembling guitars here, aching vocals and subtle touches of string there -- and the album moves with a directed force that seems so naturally powerful and uncontrived, it's almost ridiculous to think that the band cut its teeth with poppy anthems like "Jude Law and a Summer Abroad." The Devil and God is not an album of hooks; the excellent percussive stomp of "The Archers Bows Have Broken" is the most immediate here, but songs get stuck in the brain nonetheless and demand repeated spins. Old fans especially smitten by Deja's "Play Crack the Sky" have no excuse not to love everything about this record, as even lengthy tracks (like the near-eight-minute "Limousine" or the chill-inducing beauty of "Jesus") are completely compelling. People who were ready to discount Brand New into the emo/TRL heap of the 2000s better rethink their stance; Brand New seems to know exactly what they're doing and this record is a testament to their ability to stay true to themselves. Whether they want to stay underground or fully break into the mainstream, this album has the potential to do either. Either way it doesn't really matter -- whatever happens, there's no denying how excellent this record is. ~ Corey Apar, All Music Guide What do the reviewers mention or not mention and why do you think they made those choices? The first reviewer gives his own memories associated to Brand New in order to connect to his audience and writes in a style that is relatable to the college-post college audience he writes to. The second reviewer, while still writing in a style meant for a younger audience, dissects Brand New’s songs and gives explained how they have grown and matured rather than becoming part of a faded trend. He’s trying to explain why they are still relevant to critical listeners interested in the particular genre. What types of evidence do they use to back up their assertions? Do they compare it to other works or talk about audience success? Both reviewers back up their assertions by comparing Brand New to their contemporaries, their new songs to old songs and cite examples of how Brand New’s music has grown with their audience rather than trying to hold onto a teenage/high school audience. Who is the desired audience (other critics, mass population, academics) of the reviewer and how can you tell? Are there divisions in the audience (gender, race, class) and are they effective? In this case, both reviewers are writing for a similar audience- people who were once fans of Brand New. In each case the audience is meant to be someone who is attending or has graduated from college/university. They are both trying to explain that Brand New should not be another lost band for these people whose tastes and influences have matured as they have matured.