Brand New – Science Fiction
Alternative Rock | Grunge
It’s a terrible feeling being out of the loop. When Brand New dropped a surprise album, their first release since 2009, people freaked out like it was the second coming… while I remained completely oblivious, having never heard of them. While I’ll never be able to fully comprehend the hype or the history behind the record, that doesn’t stop me as a new listener assessing the record for what it is, rather than what it means on a wider scale. Even for those few unconverted such as myself, this is a strong album and one that is almost certainly worth a few spins. Its dark grungy textures built around simple acoustic foundations, and its occasional flashes of lyrical brilliance in the form of tattoo worthy one-liners, make this one of the finest alt rock records of the year.
Opening track ‘Lit Me Up’ sets the precedent for dark, eerie tones and rich imagery; boasting the record’s most striking line “I’ll burn like a witch in a puritan town”. Album highlight ‘137’ begins with hints of Nirvana’s ‘Something In The Way’, slowly building towards a cathartic guitar solo. ‘In The Water’ and ‘451’ both introduce blues elements into the mix; the former a slow burning track with a few flashes of Talk Talk, the latter containing the album’s most potent hooks and sounding like some post apocalyptic blues rock number. The melancholy vibes can make the record feel a bit dreary and repetitive at times, but the filler tracks don’t distract too much from the highlights. Though it sounds like this might be the band’s swan song, I found it a great entry point to their music and it left me wanting to explore further. From the admirable alt rock offerings found within Science Fiction I can partly understand the hype, even if I’m not a part of it.