Nobody knows when Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey is gonna decide to fully detach himself from society and retreat into the ozarks, where he’ll choose to only play his emo art rock in front of a small, yet loyal, horde of raccoons and squirrels with intricately designed sleeve tattoos. It could seriously happen at any time. That’s why fans couldn’t help but gush and obsess over last year’s emergence of “Mene“ and “Sealed To Me,” the band’s first sign of new music since their 2009 release, Daisy. Who cares if they were just leftover demos from 2006? These people will take anything they can get from Lacey at this point.
While Brand New’s been famous for toying with their obsessive fan base over the years, 2016 has seen the band as transparent as they’ve ever been. They’ll be co-headlining an honest-to-God tour with Modest Mouse this summer, then followed that news up by announcing plans for a new album via cryptic email. And now, we’ve got said album’s very first single, “I Am A Nightmare.”
As someone who eats up any and all of the intentional cryptic tomfoolery Brand New likes to pull off, I seriously cannot believe this is finally happening. I was content with another decade of one-off shows in Cooperstown, New York and mailing fans the strangest looking lyric books years after they ordered them. But now that this day is finally here, I’m speechless. Okay, I’ve gotta listen to this thing before writing one more word.
Pretty shitty, right? This is really disappointing. The opening riff to this sounds like it belongs on the loading screen of SSX Tricky and it follows the same bland formula abandoned by now obsolete bands that Brand New left in the dirt over a decade ago. What brought Brand New to this level of mysticism is how they transcended their original genre of basement Pop-Punk, turning their sound into something harsh and unforgiving held together by a kinda creepy/kinda dark emotional foundation.
There really isn’t much of that here.
It’s the laziest vocal effort Lacey’s given his entire career. Usually, if he’s even keel in a song, they’ll add a layer of him in a different note as a counterbalance. But on “Nightmare,” there isn’t a single howl or scream. It’s a consistently boring murmur.
This isn’t exactly the best foot a band would want to put forward after a 7 year hiatus. It doesn’t build off any of their past releases or show a different route being explored whatsoever. They’ve devolved the progress made by genre deviating works like The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me and Daisy back to the mean of their contemporaries.
And so after nearly a decade, the most Brand New can muster for a comeback single is a banal pop ditty filled with saccharine guitars and a hook that any listener can see coming from a mile away. What a fucking nightmare.