Long Island water must be spiked with angst. In the early 2000s, the idyllic suburb became a breeding ground for screamo bands, begetting scene exemplars Thursday, Taking Back Sunday, and Brand New. After commercial success and critical acclaim, though, the last of these disappeared completely. It’s been three years since the group’s sophomore disc, Deja Entendu; when your fans are mostly teenagers, that’s an eternity. The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me builds on its predecessor’s articulate wordplay, with lush tones that evidently evolved over the band’s extended break. Thickly layered instruments and lower-mixed vocals evoke feelings of distance and isolation, and like his fans, 28-year-old frontman Jesse Lacey has done som
e growing up—instead of struggling to belt out words through the overwhelming guitar play, he now lets music and lyrics complement each other. First single “Sowing Season (Yeah)” traverses the ground between alcoholism and death; the album’s centerpiece, “Degausser,” starts off with a screamo trope that goes back to Weezer’s Pinkerton: “Goodbye to sex/I wish I could say sorry to my ex.” Devil‘s title is a reference to Lacey’s schizophrenic friend, but instead of using insanity to describe relationships, the singer simply goes insane. “You can’t listen to your demons,” he chokes out. “They’ll never get anything right.” Three years ago, the sentiment would have induced nausea. Now, Lacey sells it.
Brand New plays Madison Square Garden with Dashboard Confessional December 8.