“If somehow I was new and everything was unsaid/ I’d go and buy a hammer, never sing again.”
When Jesse Lacey sang those words on what currently stands as Brand New’s last studio record, Daisy, in 2008, we should have known. Many did, most lived in denial, but we should have known.
We should have known this band was getting ready to leave. For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, Brand New, a Long Island, New York post-rock and emo band, seemed to announce this week that 2018 would be their final year as a cohesive unit. They made this announcement, as they seem to do all things now, in rather mysterious fashion, releasing merchandise that seemed to close out the timeline of the band’s existence.
For the uninitiated, this seems remarkably strange. For fans, it’s nothing new. For years, vaguely-messianic frontman Jesse Lacey has been trying to tell us not to expect much more from him.
He seemed to have become disillusioned by the life of a young tortured rock star, and the band disappeared for a long time. But this was not to be dramatic, or in some meaningful moment of self-destruction. Lacey made it clear. Despite what I and thousands of other diehards and apologists for the cult-band espoused, he wasn’t all that special. He was just a guy with a job that was ready to try something else. It just so happened that his job was to sing on a stage for a band called Brand New.
So for a while, there was just silence. Then, they started touring again. Then, last year, the damn seemed to start to leak. A new song, “Mene” was released, and though it was just two minutes long, fans ate it up. Then they released some well-regarded demos that were leaked, but had never quite made it out as a record. More touring. Then, another song this year. But still, no album.
It seems with this week’s announcement that we will get one more album, and, if they keep their touring schedule up, plenty of shows, before Lacey and the rest of the band depart. It will be a weird moment for me, and a lot of other fans, I think.
I still love their music and listen to it frequently, but those records occupy a very specific part of my life. A time I think fondly of, but perhaps it’s best that this particular band leaves as many of its fans leave one part of life and enter another. Then again, maybe I’m just thinking too hard about all of this.
There’s no doubt that all the pomp and circumstance surrounding their exit is tiresome. It’s trickled out, first in cryptic statements at concerts, then in weird t-shirts and then in more cryptic statements at concerts. It seemed a bit manufactured, it got a bit annoying, but I don’t know how else this band would have gone out.
I do know that this band did, does, and will mean a lot to me. I’ve had other bands I like break up, but this is the most intense for sure. I’ll see them play with another of my favorites, Modest Mouse, this July. I’ve seen them before and if history is any predictor, it will be loud, chaotic, destructive, a little confusing, and somehow brilliant.
It’s what they’ve been their whole career. They’ll go out the same way.
(If by chance you know of the band this was written about, or I’ve sparked some curiosity, I’ve left a few of my favorites below. Enjoy.)