There’s something stirring deep within the subconscious of Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey on their 2017 LP, “Science Fiction.”
Possibly the last album from the Levittown, New York quartet who burst onto the emo scene in the late ’90s, “Science Fiction” feels like a natural capstone to one of rock music’s biggest enigmas — if it is their last album.
A slow sink toward “something stirring in a deep Atlantic trench,” the album’s opening track “Lit Me Up” might surprise long-time fans expecting some sort of immediately cathartic drop like on the opening cuts of their last two records.
While those big moments are present in “Science Fiction” on tracks like “Same Logic/Teeth” and “137”— a slow-churning-drawl that explodes into an apocalyptic climax of noise and guitars — the album seems more interested in slowly enveloping the listener rather than attacking them head on.
Science Fiction would not succeed even half as much as it does if it weren’t for the superb production work done by Mike Sapone. Even small, throwaway moments like the outro segment of “Out of Mana” show an extreme attention to detail in the mixing.
The album’s themes of therapy and self exploration tie well with tracks like “No Control” and “Can’t get it out” which feel like mature reflections on the nature and style of tracks from the band’s earlier years.
Where their third record “The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me” was, in an interpretive sense, a funeral for a self destructive twenty-something — with Lacey exploring the ramifications of choices such as drunk driving — “Science Fiction” is him as an adult now reflecting on and reckoning with those same choices, exploring the ways they’ve shaped him as an adult.
On “Waste” Lacey speaks to his younger self with both remorse (“Was a shoe in for the crash of the day, and we’re never going to walk away”) and reassurance (“I’m hoping that in time you can lay down all this weight you’ve been carrying around…cause every night had you laid low, it’s going to feel so good to let it go).
These same lyrics also lend to the idea that maybe Brand New are done with music, it wouldn’t be surprising as the band has spent more than a decade eschewing most press and public appearances altogether. If this is the case, Science Fiction was the send off fans deserved.
Overall Rating: 9/10