(This article has been edited from it’s original version by request of the SongPlug Community to omit Brand New’s Lead Vocalist name from it’s content. For these reasons, we felt it necessary to morally object to publishing any credits on his behalf)
In the song “Secondary,” after a long, dramatic, emo AF guitar riff, you hear Brand New’s vocalist sing out the line “and it’s my last semester…” As I find myself walking along campus listening to this song, nevertheless during my own last semester before I graduate, two thoughts run through my mind. One being “holy shit man you are such a sap,” and the other being “man…I have been listening to this album pretty consistently for a long time now…why?”
Brand New released “Your Favorite Weapon” through Triple Crown Records in 2001. It’s their first record, their most mediocre and immature, yet it seems to be their most beloved by fans everywhere. Brand New as a band and specifically this album played a big role in my teen/college-aged years. I know every word and every note of this record. I often declare it as my all-time favorite. Something about it keeps drawing me back in even though I am well past my teenage years and about halfway through my twenties.
Brand New formed in the year 2000 in a little suburb on Long Island called Levittown. Their startup story is nothing too exciting, and when they released Your Favorite Weapon, it didn’t make too much of a fuss. This wasn’t their first band for any of its members. Pretty much all of the songs from this album were just pulled out of everyone’s pockets from past years and past bands. There really is no flow to the album. The boys wanted to make a record for the sake of making a record. To make music, to have fun, to get their name out there. All of the members were 17-22 years old at the time. And what do you write about when you’re 17-22 years old? Girls. Alienation. Frustration. What else? Thematically, this is some hardcore pop punk. Songs about some chick liking your friend but not liking you? Check. Songs about a girl you’re in love with who doesn’t know you exist? Check. Songs about long distance relationships not working out? Check. Songs about your girlfriend cheating on you during her semester abroad and you wish her plane crashes on her return home and that she burns in the wreckage? Uhh…check? The album is just all over the place. From heartbroken and vulnerable to pissed off and bitter, from bored and jaded to hopeful and optimistic.
I have never played in a band and I don’t play any instruments so I don’t feel I am qualified to speak much on the album’s musical content, but what I can say is that it is pretty formulaic in regards to pop punk. It’s saturated with power chord-heavy songs with an acoustic closing track (of course), frequent song breaks with acapellas, urgent quiet-loud-quiet-loud vocals- sometimes even shouted through a megaphone. It’s fast food music. All the loudness, melodies and catchy hooks you could ever want crammed into 40 minutes without much regard for presentation. And it is a treasure.
Standing alone, the album truly is not that great or groundbreaking in any way. What makes this album so great in my opinion, is in the context of the band itself. Brand New started as a band with no agenda other than to be a band. They are not and never were a pop punk band, an alternative rock band, a noise rock band, or an indie rock band, although different albums of theirs have been classified as those genres and nobody would necessarily be wrong in doing so. Brand New is a band that grew up. That was always changing their style and their sound to fit wherever they were at that time in their lives. Over time these songs slowly phased out of their live setlists. The songs and the themes were just no longer relevant. Brand New invited their fans to grow with them. Let yourself have fun, make some major fuck ups, learn from your mistakes and write a silly song about it.
Some bands pick a theme and a sound and just run with it and beat it to the ground no matter how old they get. Brand New is not one of those bands. However there is nothing wrong with bands who choose to go that route. Look at Blink-182 for example, these are dudes well into their 40s still writing and singing songs about pizza and swimming pools and wanting to run away from home because you’re sick of your dad yelling at you and your friends for not throwing away your beer cans.(Also don’t get me wrong, I still love Blink.)
I’ll admit I am a sucker for the 1996-2002 pop punk sound and I love sappy, whiney songs about girls as much as the next guy. But that just happened to be who Brand New was at the time and that’s what they wanted to write and what they wanted to play. And that’s all that this album became. A snapshot in their career. They moved on. When I first heard Your Favorite Weapon, I wanted more. I discovered Brand New when they were about halfway through their career and well past their pop punk days. I was not yet a true fan. I didn’t appreciate their later works like Deja Entendu and the Devil and God are Raging Inside Me. I thought the songs were slow and boring and overwrought. Where are all the fast songs, man? I wanted Your Favorite Weapon 2. I saw Brand New live for the first time and was crushed when the only song they played off YFW was Seventy Times Seven.
I guess one of the main reasons I love this album so much is because it is pure nostalgia for me. My teenage years are well behind me but sometimes I feel like revisiting. It’s important to go back and laugh at yourself sometimes and appreciate how much you’ve grown. Most of these songs aren’t relevant to me anymore. Shit, I cringe at the lyrics myself now, too. “Her lips taste like a loaded gun”? “Back in school they never taught us what we needed to know like how to deal with despair or someone breaking your heart”? Even the song titles, man. “Last Chance to Lose Your Keys”?? Fuuuuck.
Your Favorite Weapon helps me reflect. It helps me laugh. It helps me not take things so seriously. But if I’m in the mood to take things VERY seriously then it’s always good for that too.