The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me (Brand New)

Album Rating: 9.5/10

Since this is my first album review, I figured I would begin with my favorite album and see how it goes.

Brand New’s third album, The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, is an incredible follow up to their sophomore release, Deja Entendu.  In this album, they portray exactly what the album title claims, focusing on the inner turmoil that most of us experience.  Jesse Lacey (lead singer) gives us the rise and the fall with every note, giving us the opportunity to experience the music with him.  This is very evident in the opening song, Sowing Season (Yeah)

1.  Sowing Season (Yeah):  This is an incredible introduction to the album.  Lacey opens the album paying tribute to the many close friends that they lost throughout the making of this album.  The first few lines are quiet and pensive, leaving us with anticipation.  You begin to see Lacey’s struggle in the incredibly crafted lines…

Is it in you now?
To watch the things you gave your life to, broken
And then stoop and build them up
With worn out tools?

Then the wait pays off as he screams the “Yeah” leading us into the bulk of the song.  This song demonstrates the intensity of the inner conflict as it builds and backs off.  Overall, it is an excellent song and it is well placed on the album. 9.5/10

2.  Millstone:  Sowing Season flows flawlessly into this next song.  This song, to me, is the basic theme of the entire album.  Once again, Lacey shows his incredible lyric ability:

I used to pray like God was listening
I used to make my parents proud
I was the glue that kept my friends together
Now they don’t talk and we don’t go out
I used to know the name of every person I’d kissed
Now I’ve made this bed and I can’t fall asleep in it

But it is the lyrics to the chorus that shows the real meaning of the song.  Lacey say’s “Take me out tonight, this ship of fools I’m on will sink.  I’m my own stone around my neck…” referencing the bible in Matthew 18:6 (“Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believed in me, it were better for him that millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”).  This reference to a millstone, (which is actually the large, circular stone of the mill that spins) shows that he feels deeply guilty about a pain he caused someone.  This is largely applicable to anyone, because we’ve all hurt other people at some point.  This is a very well written song and the melody sings the anguish that this realization causes us. 9/10

3.  Jesus Christ:  This is the song on the album that truly drew me in.  This is a beautifully honest song directed at Jesus Christ.  I feel like if there was one song on the album that you could never skip, this would be it.  Here is the link to the official video.  It is incredible how powerful this song is.  It is so powerful because they hold back and build up so much.  It is as if the bridge to the song is a black hole that sucks you in.  As you get closer to it, the less you can avoid it.  The song hits its climax when Lacey shouts that “We’ve all got wood and nails” describing our sincere feelings.  Lacey says what many of us don’t have the courage to: “I know you think that I’m someone you can trust, but I’m scared I’ll get scared and I swear I’ll try to nail you back up.”  This song is incredibly moving and shows you that it’s okay to be honest, even though the truth is hard to take. 10/10

4.  Degausser:  According to Wikipedia, Degaussing is the process of decreasing or eliminating an unwanted magnetic field.  In this song, Lacey claims that he’s been degaussed.  I believe he is referring to having lost touch with his faith in God that he was drawn to since childhood.  Now he feels he is “on his own” and he is “letting the bad parts in.”  This song feels like it is spinning out of control, which is just what Lacey intended because without that magnetic force pulling you in and guiding you, you are either free to roam or you spin out of control until you find your way.  This song gives you one hell of a ride. 9/10

5.  Limousine:  This song is a musical and lyrical masterpiece.  This is one of two songs I have ever cried during.  The story behind this song is a deeply sad one, but Brand New gives the most beautiful memorial for this dear girl.  In 2005, six year old Katie Flynn was in a limousine with her family returning from a wedding that she was the flower girl for.  They were hit head on by a drunk driver in a horrific accident.  When Katie’s mother got out of the car, she found her daughter’s head in the highway.  She stooped over, picked it up, and sat on the curb, crying.  Read more here.  This was such a horrible and traumatic accident and Brand New pays tribute to this beautiful little girl and her family.  The song begins from the eyes of Katie’s mother, softly whispering to her daughter.  Then the song is viewed in the perspective of the guilty drunk driver who is turning to Jesus, but even Jesus can’t forgive him, saying, “I died for you one time, but never again.”  Then, the song ends by proclaiming our love for Katie seven times (to completion).  Finally, Katie has the last words, saying 9.5/10

I’ll never have to buy adjacent plots of earth
We’ll never have to rot together underneath dirt
I’ll never have to lose my baby in the crowd
I should be laughing right now

6.  You Won’t Know:  Katie Flynn (Kay) remains the theme of this song.  They open up telling Mr. Hangman to get his rope, referring to the driver.  This song is very dark and has a lot of themes of death, but is a song about the desire to avenge Katie’s death.  This song is basically the same as Limousine, but takes it from a much more angry, vengeful approach.  This is not only shown by the intense lyrics of the song, but by the fact that the majority of the song is being screamed.  In the last verse, Lacey makes the song more personal, by reviewing his own sins and guilt.  He claims, “On the day that I show up they’ll be completely out of their forgiveness supplies.”  Brand New continues to portray that their sins and wrongdoings or much more than God could handle.  This song and whole album is so breathtakingly honest. 8.5/10

7.  Welcome to Bangkok:  Welcome to Bangkok is pretty much an instrumental interlude.  This song begins with a voice saying, “Space cadet, pull out.”  This is shrouded in mystery to me, but it leads up to an awesome, intense breakdown that clearly separates the album into two parts.  Overall, this isn’t a song I would choose to listen to by itself, but given it’s purpose on the album, I give it a 7.5/10

8.  Not the Sun:  This is one of the few songs on the album that appears to be about a girl.  The chorus repeats “be my babe,” while the verses say what they don’t want you to be (don’t be that note I can’t hold,that joke that I told and told ’til it got old, or that hand around my throat so I can’t breathe).  This song is intensely played until it gets to the bridge.

“Tell me you know what I mean.  You set on me, but you are not the sun.”

To me, this song appears to be about someone who stepped away from God and is searching for something new, or trying to purge themselves of their old ways, and begin again.  Interesting song, but one of the album’s weakest.  7/10

9.  Luca:  This used to be my favorite song on the album, and still remains one of my favorites.  The lyrics are incredible and define growing up and maturing.  The most incredible lines on this album appear in the first verse:

When I disappear do you fear for the sister I took
When I disappear it is clear I am up to no good
I am drearily bloodletting this bedwetting cosmonaut
“Son, the last thing you’ll realize you need is what you’ve already got”

The third line in that stanza is so powerful and so true.  It describe slowly growing up, maturing out of the bedwetting phase.  The high falsetto voice gives this song such a dream-like sound.  To me, the chorus, “So touch me or don’t, just let me know where you been,” is either God speaking to the writer or vice versa.  Either way, it’s powerful stuff.  Although the bulk of this song is great, the best part by far is the silence in the bridge leading to the perfect scream of “Where you been?!”  The silence of this segment makes you listen more closely to it, then it hits you like a hand grenade in the face.  Have a listen. 9/10

10.  Untitled: I think this is one of the greatest interlude songs of all time.  It’s only rival is its twin brother “Be Gone” on Brand New’s most recent album, Daisy.  Both songs use distorted voices that sound like they’re underwater, in a cave, skipping on an old record player.  Untitled, however, is much more relaxing.  The only words you can make out sound like, “I could never lose it.” 8/10

11.  The Archers Bows Have Broken:  This is probably the most pop-sounding song on the album.  It is very upbeat, but lacks the multi-layered tracks that Brand New is so talented at putting together.  However, Brand New never fails to deliver incredible lyrics.

What did you learn tonight?
while shouting so loud, you barely joyous, broken thing.
You are a voice that never sings, is what i say.
You are freezing over hell
You are bringing on that end you do so well
and you can only blame yourself, is what is say.

Although the verses give off a slightly negative vibe, this chorus is so upbeat and positive.  However, the lyrics obviously do not match.  Overall, this is one of my favorite songs standing alone as a single, but when put on the album, it seems out of place.  8/10

12.  Handcuffs:  The painfully honest part of Jesus Christ that said that he would nail Christ back up if he came again was only a glimpse of the honesty in this song.  Lacey says, “I’d drown all these crying babies if i knew that their mothers wouldn’t cry. I’d lower them down and squeeze real soft and let a piece of myself die.”  This is the most disturbing lyric I’ve ever read, but it gets to the point.  It is incredibly blunt and shows what our thoughts would be without any moral code.  Then, Lacey gets to the chorus saying, “It’s hard to be the better man when you forget you’re trying.”  Painfully honest song that is a little too disturbing.  However, it reminds me of a great song by David Bazan called Hard To Be off his album Curse Your Branches (Maybe I’ll review this album next?)  6.5/10

Overall, this album is incredible.  It is deeply pensive, so it’s not a light listen, or even something I would want to listen to in the background.  Hopefully you’ll get a chance to check it out.  If you do, let me know what you think of my review!  Also, if you have any ideas about how I could improve these album reviews, let me know!


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