Back when Brand New alluded to their disbandment in 2018, we naturally assumed that would come with a new, albeit final, record. Judgement day is finally upon us and LP5, or Science Fiction, is a mildly tangible product that a lucky 500 got their hands on yesterday, before the downloads became available hours later.
Appearing as a crudely burnt CD and mailed seemingly to those who got the preorder, Science Fiction came partnered with a booklet that was simultaneously an apology to fans and a whole new realm to delve into. In case you aren’t aware, the second half of this booklet takes the form of chess moves; more importantly, a specific set of chess moves: those from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The biggest question of all is:
Where exactly does this fit into Brand New LP5?
The Your Favorite Weapon tie-in
Well, aside from the fact the album is called Science Fiction, and 2001… is a pretty major science fiction movie, the artwork for Brand New’s first album, Your Favorite Weapon, features chess pieces and was released in 2001. Weak ties, granted, but let’s head back to 2015. Reddit user Ohheyashleyyy brought forth some conspiracy theories: a Brand New fan favorite pastime.
The original post links several themes and ideas back to both the film and the band. While in 2015 these theories seemed tedious, the fact that we’re here in 2017 with a “surprise” album release featuring a chess-themed quotation from the very film referenced makes it all a bit more believable.
Now, let’s get to the title of the singular track that makes up the purported album. “44.5902N104.7146W,” when split in two, makes the coordinates to Devils Tower, (If we really need to do the math, remember The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me?) along with several themes throughout the record that reference religion — most notably “Desert,” which talks from an uber-conservative viewpoint. But that’s not all: Devils Tower was also the monument used in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, another ridiculously famous science fiction film. So far, we have Brand New unveiling their deep, undying appreciation for sci-fi films while simultaneously messing with their legions of fans.
When the preorder went live, along with the tour dates (and poster—key component here), Brand New very well may have been alluding to artwork. The arrows that are essential to the poster show the physics of the human body when bracing from a jump. Not only that, but the landscape in the background looks an awful lot like the ground around Devils Tower.
— Brand New (@brandnewrock) August 15, 2017
Let’s move on to the artwork: a photo of two girls jumping outside (or floating away!? *conspiracy klaxon*), which also features a Mercedes with “SOS 666” as the license plate, tying in nicely with the religious themes. Maybe this is Brand New linking their career span into one final package, which would fit with 2018 being the end. The photo belongs to Thobias Fäldt, a Swedish photographer who won an award for his book Year One — also the title to an anthology of science fiction stories, “Lightspeed: Year One.”
The actual content of the album is something that will be labored over for a very long time. There’s a depth to every layer that holds something new. Opening track “Lit Me Up” features reversed talking during the outro. Upon further inspection, and listening intently to a rather creepy realization, the voice says “Question mark. If so, you will be dead tonight.” Let’s hope Jesse Lacey and co. aren’t in the business of starting viral horror threats.
Many fans have noted the level of detail in throwing back to their career: “In The Water” references “seven years,” a number that is a major player in “Limousine” on The Devil And God…, while there are similar, if not the same, haunting church samples featured on the beginning of ‘Daisy.’ It would seem that Brand New are attempting to tie their journey up in the only way they know how: surrounding it with myth and hope.
When an album takes almost a decade to surface, you tend to hold high hopes. When a band such as Brand New, a band so reliant on their smoke and mirrors you tend to forget about the actual musical aspect, finally come to releasing new material, it feels as if the world is righted.
It all boils down to science fiction: a genre that’s famed for portraying the future filled with ideas that we’re scared of, yet ultimately yearning for. It’s clearly such a stupidly obvious title for the (potentially) final Brand New album that it’s a shock no one saw coming. They’ve given us what we’ve yearned for, for nearly a decade. A new album, one that also signals the end. We should relish in every hidden token because they’ve certainly toiled over every second and made it relevant. Give yourself time to properly digest Science Fiction because this is it. We’re living in the future.