Brand New: ‘Mene’ Single Review

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Kim Kardashian may think she broke the Internet with that one magazine cover, but she obviously hasn’t met Brand New and their hordes of devoted fans. These fans put up with their cryptic music and viral marketing efforts, but somehow love them more for it. After a sudden increase in Internet activity, the Rock band dropped their first song in six years, “Mene,” to a welcoming and eager fan base.

Despite being only 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length, the track kicks off with a 30-second guitar and drum intro with a fast tempo. The introduction could be long or short based on which of Brand New’s catalogue you compare it to. The band then slows it down a tad for the first hint of Jesse Lacey’s vocals.

The lyrics are just as angst and emotional as what you’d expect from Brand New. While it’s pretty safe to assume the content of the track has nothing to do with the hiatus the band has been on, there is a tad bit of irony in one line: “There was something I was trying to say / But then I choked on it and now it’s getting kind of late / We walked to the edge but we never leapt / What seems to you when you disconnect.”

Lacey keeps up his trend of screaming through some verses—especially in the chorus—“Written on the wall / The letters plain and tall / This is my own fault / We don’t feel anything.” He also takes a break from singing—and screaming—to impart some wisdom: “I still cower at eternal wrath, though / Don’t want my fear to become my shadow / I want to invade my thoughts / I want to die in Kyoto.” The contrast of the fast tempo and the spoken word adds an interesting effect to the track.

Overall, the lyrics seem to be all over the place. Most of the band’s past work has told a story of some sort that is open to the interpretation of the listener. “Mene,” however, doesn’t really have a larger theme and almost appears to be telling several stories at once, which perhaps could be the point. 

Whether or not the title has anything to do with the sporadic theme is also open to interpretation, but it does seem to have some religious implications. A quick Google search to define the word “mene” leads to the phrase “Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin,” which is included as part of a story in the Old Testament, specifically the Book of Daniel. The phrase was found on the wall of Belshazzar’s palace, and according to the book, Daniel interpreted the message as some sort of impending doom. That same night, Belshazzar was killed and the Persians captured the capital. “Mene, Mene” is also referred to as “the writing on the wall,” which Lacey sings about in the aforementioned chorus: “Written on the wall / The letters plain and tall…” He also mentions a prophecy such as the one Daniel provides: “My father spoke of prophecy / To think that I believed is self-centered of me.”

This past Wednesday, April 8th, Brand New performed at The Filmore Auditorium in Denver, CO. During their set, they played a mysterious, new song sans introduction that bled straight into “Sink” from Daisy, the band’s last full-length released in 2009. Thanks to a set list obtained after the show, fans labeled the new track as “Don’t Feel Anything,” but as we are all now aware, it was actually “Mene.”

Despite the six-year music drought, Brand New sound better than ever and have maintained the sound and lyrical content that attracted fans in the first place. If “Mene” is any indication of what else is to come, then it’s safe to say it’s worth the wait.  The track is currently available for free download by signing up for Brand New’s mailing list on their website.

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Rachel is a magazine journalism/photojournalism graduate whose diet consists mainly of music, movies, pizza, coffee and anything scary.