Album Review: Science Fiction by Brand New

As a long time fan of the rock/emo band, Brand New, I was more than ecstatic to find out about the release of their fifth (and most likely final) album, Science Fiction. Even though Brand New released a few singles before the official release of Science Fiction, it would be the band’s first new album in 8 years since Daisy, which was released in 2009.

As Brand New is known for, there was little marketing or press before Science Fiction’s release date, which definitely caught a lot of us off-guard when the album finally came out. But even with their minimalistic approach to marketing, they still managed to reach #1 on Top Album Sales for the week of September 9, 2017 on billboard.com

So, without further ado, here is my track-by-track review of some of my favorite songs from the poignant and solemn, Science Fiction.

1) Lit Me Up 

The song starts off with an eerie vintage recording of a therapy session where a woman retells a dream. It then fades into a minimal instrumental that beautifully highlight’s Jesse Lacey’s vocals and lyrics. Although many of the tracks on this album are vague in their meaning, “Lit Me Up” arguably has a theme of awakening.

To me, “Lit Me Up” tells the story of someone who has become numb to themselves and the world around them, until some sort of catalyst awakens them and reignites their passion for life, or presumably anything else they’ve become dull to.

“Lit Me Up” is a perfect entrance to the album; it sets the tone and beautifully leads into the next track.

2) Can’t Get It Out

“Can’t Get It Out” begins with crisp guitar strums and a more high-paced rhythm, but it’s certainly not more uplifting in terms of lyrical content. Ironically, that seems to be the message of the song.

There’s speculation that the song is about Lacey’s own musical history. Many of his songs aren’t considered to be happy or positive by listeners. And with the lyrics “I’ve got a positive message, sometimes I can’t get it out,” it seems that Lacey (or the song’s subject) struggles with an internal conflict of not being able to effectively communicate their true intentions or emotions.

3) Waste

Moody, heavy, and low can best describe the album’s third track, “Waste.” While it’s not my favorite song off the record, it definitely serves a purpose. It’s almost a paperweight or anchor in between the rock and roll style of “Can’t Get It Out,” and the light and dreamy aura of “Could Never Be Heaven.”

The lyrics are about self-destruction, being at your lowest point, and trying to piece yourself back together again. Lacey sings “And maybe one day, you’ll find your way, to climb on up out of your grave, with the bits of you you managed to save…”

4) Could Never Be Heaven

This might be one of my favorite songs from Science Fiction. It’s melodic, airy, and heavenly to listen to. However, there’s something compelling about Lacey’s voice and the warm harmonies in the song that grips the listener.

“Could Never Be Heaven” is also one of the more difficult songs to decode lyrically. While I’m not certain of what the song is about, there are strong motifs of death, heaven, water, religion, and love.

There’s also a strange vintage recording at the end of the song that discusses what it means to be truly authentic in your individuality, or if the act of trying to be an individual hinders that authenticity. It’s hard to say if this excerpt is connected to “Could Never Be Heaven,” but it sure does add an obscure and thought-provoking impact on the song.

5) Same Logic / Teeth

“Same Logic / Teeth” brings back the loud and emotional side that Brand New is typically known for. The song discusses self-destruction, guilt, self-loathing, and manipulation. Even though the topic’s dark, there’s something in the song that resonates with all of us to some extent.

6) 137

Instrumentally, “137” isn’t very exciting at the beginning. However, the sparse sounds emphasize the lyrics, which are the primary focus of the song. “137” seems to be a portrayal of nuclear war with the lyrics of the first chorus being: “Let’s all go play Nagasaki, we can all get vaporized, hold my hand let’s turn to ash, I’ll see you on the other side.”  

The song also ends with a loud cacophony of sounds which is presumably an audio metaphor for the chaos and distress of a nuclear disaster.

(137 is assumed to be a reference to the radioactive isotope Caesium-137)

 

7) Out of Mana

“Out of Mana” was the first song I heard from Science Fiction, and it definitely ties the most into the album’s title. The guitars on this track are immediately distorted and heavy. This, combined with the catchy chorus and unconventional lyrics had me replaying this song for days.

“Out of Mana” heavily references technology and video games in the lyrics and title. While this might just be the band having fun with obscure topics, I think there might be a deeper meaning that connects overcoming challenges digitally with overcoming challenges in real life. Either way, the song is still a thrill to listen to.

11) 451

3 second into “451” and you’ll surely be nodding your head and tapping your toes along with it. The song is rhythmic, up-beat, and intense. “451”, along with “Could Never Be Heaven” are most likely my top 2 favorites of the album. It’s a perfect song to play in the car with sunglasses on and the windows rolled down.

However, after scouring my mind and the internet, there doesn’t seem to be any clear answer to what the song means. The lyrics “A million suns won’t fill you up if you can’t see the wine flowing over your cup.” discusses being unsatisfied with more than enough, and the title “451” is assumed to be a reference to  Ray Bradbury’s novel Fareinheight 451.

 

 

Review: The Life of Pablo by Kanye West

The Life of Pablo

Originally titled So Help Me God, then switched to SWISH, then changed to Waves, and then finally confirmed as The Life of Pablo, Kanye West’s seventh studio album serves as a hallmark for all his emotions and experiences throughout his career. Listening closely, one could recognize elements adopted from each one of his previous albums- the gospel sounds and rebellious nature from Late Registration and College Dropout, the prosperity from Graduation, the romantic and sexual sentiments from 808s & Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and the arrogance and aggression from Cruel Summer and Yeezus. What was extremely amusing was the hype and controversy surrounding the release of the album, as people did not know what the hell to expect but much was anticipated.

Maintaining the sonic genius inside him, Mr. West takes us to the extremes with his provocative yet pious messages. In the song “Ultralight Beam,” Kanye emphasizes, “I’m tryna keep my faith, we on an ultralight beam, we on an ultralight beam, this is a God dream, this is a God dream, this is everything, this is everything.” Reminiscent to his track “Jesus Walks” from The College Dropout in 2004, Yeezy asks God for guidance through the temptations that bound him. We all know Ye loves God, almost as much as he loves himself. Moreover, in “Father Stretch My Hands, Parts 1 and 2,” Kanye simply wants to “feel liberated” from the media and obsessions of the world. In addition, he reflects on his accomplishments and fame in the most egotistical way possible. He even has a song titled “I Love Kanye,” which highlights his personality over the years and how fans love Kanye “like Kanye loves Kanye.” On the song FACTS, he critically disses Nike and boasts about Yeezy, his clothing line of shoes under Adidas. Let’s not forget about Kanye’s undisrupted lust for the ladies, for he spills a little bit of his fantasy love life from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on The Life of Pablo. In My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye basically foreshadows his marriage with Kim Kardashian on the song “Hell of a Night,” where he falls in love with and marries a pornstar. In The Life of Pablo, he tries to suppress his concupiscent enticements and remain loyal while being in such a relationship on the song “FML”. Kanye goes in hard with straight bars alongside Kendrick Lamar on the song “No More Parties in L.A.” There are several other awesome featured artists on this project such as Andre 3000, Frank Ocean, Chance The Rapper, Young Thug, Chris Brown, and Rihanna. The production is incredible as always, and he drowns listeners with deep emotional melodies on songs like “Wolves” and “Waves.” Depression, infatuations, narcissism, and strife are all real concerns articulated throughout this work of art.

Kanye compares himself to Pablo Escobar, the notorious Colombian drug lord, and Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Additionally, he is able to buy his way through the fashion industry and assert himself as an interesting, controversial figure in social media and the news. As I like to say, “Yeezy gon’ do what Yeezy wanna do.” A handful of people dislike Kanye for some of his behaviors, but one could appreciate Mr. West for staying true to who he is and straight up speaking his mind.

Mr. West says The Life of Pablo will never be on sale but can be streamed on the music service TIDAL.

Here are a few of the songs from Kanye West’s soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/kanyewest/facts-explicit