Patrick Wall, Style Editor

Brand New has spent the better part of their career challenging listeners. Like Pearl Jam before them, the Long Island quintuplet has never stayed satisfied with legions of fans more than willing to follow along. With Daisy, Brand New has created one of their best and most challenging albums.

Brand New has never been a band to stay in one musical head space for very long. Each album sounds vastly different than its predecessor and Daisy is no exception. The whining pop punk of Your Favorite Weapon now a distant memory, Brand New continues to experiment with new sounds and textures.

Daisy is, in a word, dense. Much like the band’s last release, 2006’s The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, this new album is difficult to approach.

In truth, it’s a very coarse record that feels almost grimy at first listen. But in true Brand New style, the patient listener is rewarded with an album that is solid from start to finish.

Anger and frustration have always been central to the mystique of Brand New, and that doesn’t change on Daisy. The lead single, “At the Bottom,” still broods and explodes like many of the band’s trademark tunes. This time around, though, Brand New appears to have taken some cues from grunge bands of years past.

Whining guitars and dirty drums mix to create a sound that feels like the bastard child of Modest Mouse’s The Moon & Antarctica and Radiohead’s OK Computer.

Songs like “Be Gone,” with its vocal treatment, and the twists and turns of “Bought a Bride” force the listener to pay attention. This kind of inventiveness and intensity might have turned off a legion of Brand New fans, but it has rightfully earned them the title of “America’s Radiohead.” Lead singer Jesse Lacey said the band wrote the album for the stage instead of the studio. This conscious decision makes the album feel awkward at some points, but isn’t music supposed to be seen live anyway?

Daisy’s weakest link is the lyrics. Lacey largely gave up writing duties for this album and it shows. The sometimes vague and mostly brilliant lyrics are gone, replaced with a more upfront approach. Themes of closure mark the album as the band questions its future.

After some of the great lines of albums past, hearing Lacey croon “The champ goes down like a clown in the second round” on “Bed” is a huge letdown. This isn’t to say there aren’t a generous helping of catchy hooks, but Brand New is capable of better.

Matching the brilliant intensity of their last album was always going to be difficult, but the boys of Brand New have created a worthy successor. True to form, the album feels off-putting at first, but each subsequent spin reveals something new to love.

Is Daisy Brand New’s best album? No. Is it one of the best albums of the year? Absolutely.

The kings of alternative have raised the bar again. Perhaps no one can say it better than Lacey did on “Degausser” from The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me: “No matter what they say, I am still the king.”
Reign on, Brand New. Reign on.