The Brand New Mystery
Band drops two new songs after years of silence
After 15 years on the music scene, Brand New has taken its fans on a thrilling and perplexing journey. Through its elusive policies of little-to-no interviews, music videos or interactions with fans (except for sparse social media posts and chatting during concerts), Brand New has kept out of the public eye in recent years. However, within the past few weeks, it was revealed that Brand New has been anything but inactive, which stirred up a lot hype.
In the CD sleeve of its 2006 album, The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me (TDAG), rather than including a lyric booklet, a simple message read: “Please send $1 to [studio address] for a complete copy of the lyrics.” While most were confused by the strange request, many sent in their dollars and awaited a response.
Within the nine years between then and now, Brand New released one full-length studio album and played countless shows, but the TDAG lyric booklets have remained in obscurity. Even after the 2009 release of its latest studio album, Daisy, the band remained ambiguous about fulfilling their $1 promise to the fans.
Early in 2015, speculation about the booklets surfaced once more. A picture of what appeared to be a finished lyric booklet was posted by recording studio UpStudio with the caption, “You will get it when it’s finished #pogolith.” The photo has since been removed from the recording studio’s Tumblr site, and many dismissed it as a hoax. However, April 3, fans were shocked to find the completed TDAG lyric booklets in their mailboxes, nine years after the release of the album. The booklets are laden with reimagined album art, encrypted numerical messages which all seem to point to July 10, 2018 (frontman Jesse Lacey’s 40th birthday and the band’s rumored death date), and the mysterious term “POGOLITH” (likely a reference to the studio where Brand New may be recording), as well as obscure references to locations on Long Island, the band’s home. Included are the complete lyrics for all tracks on TDAG, as well as an advertisement for new cassette tapes of some of its demos leaked in 2005 (with the charming slogan “old technology? sure. but try and file share this!”), and, finally, the original dollar bills sent to the band.
On April 8, Brand New began their much-anticipated world tour, kicking off in Denver, Colorado. Earlier that day, the band’s Instagram was wiped of all its photos in favor of one photo of the ensemble and a few shots promoting their show later that evening. Through its Instagram, the band also revealed it was selling the fabled lyric booklets for $2 apiece, and they would be sold online as well. Many thought Brand New was trying to create hype for the tour, but it turned out to be something much larger. At that show, the band shocked its fans for the second time in two weeks by opening with a surprise new single — the first new music from Brand New in six years. The band continued playing the song (initially referred to as “Don’t Feel Anything”) without explanation at its shows until April 13, when the single was released by Brand New via its website, officially titled “Mene.” Free downloads of the track were available for less than a week before it was uploaded to iTunes.
“Mene” itself is a hybrid creature of young and old Brand New, pulling in sounds from Your Favorite Weapon and Deja Entendu alike. It embodies the sound of the band’s first album in its angsty, loud guitar riffs and calm verses followed by screaming choruses, reminding fans of Brand New’s emo/punk roots. However, the lyrics are what bring the single up to Brand New’s current era; themes from both Deja Entendu and TDAG are clearly present, which make way for more refined, mature lyrics about religion and the significance of life rather than angry lamentation about a bad breakup.
On April 15, two days after “Mene” was released as a single, Brand New surprised crowds yet again at its show in Los Angeles, California. When fans arrived, they were handed lyric sheets to a new song, which the paper entitled “Sealed To Me.” This song, however, was no hard rock opener; rather, it was a song Lacey closed the concert with in solitude. With only a microphone and his electric guitar, he dedicated it to his family and friends, saying that it is a personal song about how “it’s hard being 37 and learning a lot of hard lessons that you [should have learned] when you were 17.”
“Sealed To Me” is similar to tracks found on Deja Entendu in its raw, bare-bones, emotional nature, featuring mumble-whispered vocals and slight guitar interludes to accompany the lyrics. However, the biggest jump is unlike most other Brand New songs of the same variety, “Sealed To Me” has no climax or breakdown. While many of the band’s songs begin more delicately, there is almost always a point where the music kicks in strongly and forcibly (most notably heard in “Sowing Season” or “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t”), but “Sealed To Me” is absent of this. The music remains at a constant, low hum as Lacey’s vocals wash over it, eventually concluding the same way they began — in controlled repose.
Whether Brand New is building to the announcement of an album which will call back to its roots from an older perspective or sadistically toying with the emotions of their fans for fun, it’s safe to say that fans are all along for the ride, eagerly anticipating whatever it is the band has planned next.
Grace Rychwalski is a sophomore writing major who wants to know what the fuck is going on with this band. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.