In 1656, English poet Abraham Cowley wrote, "A mighty pain to love it is/And 't is a pain that pain to miss; But of all pains, the greatest pain/It is to love, but love in vain."
Sometimes, that's what it feels like to be a fan of Brand New.
Thanks to the band's aloofness and apathy, allowing yourself to fall for the Long Island alternative-rock outfit is much the same as being a victim of unrequited love. And while quoting a 17th Century poet may seem an overly dramatic way to express the pains of waiting for a band to drop a new album, this is Brand New we're talking about.
There is something of an obsessive, cult-like air that surrounds Brand New fandom. Anytime the slightest bit of news leaks from its camp, confirmed or otherwise, we get dizzy with excitement — or terror.
Last October, frontman and lead singer Jesse Lacey told a Nashville crowd, "I'm gonna tell you right here and now: This isn't going to last much longer. But it's been so special for so long, and for as long as it does last, we're so grateful to all you for being here." Many speculated this was the last we'd see of Brand New. The band's breakup was imminent. We would burn effigies in its honor and give it a Viking funeral.
Then the group announced a coheadlining tour with Modest Mouse.
Not long after, new music appeared in the form of "Mene" and later "I Am a Nightmare," songs that hinted at vintage Brand New but more importantly awoke a sense of anticipation and longing in fans that had lagged in recent years with the radio silence the band had been operating. To quote yet another dead Englishman, Alexander Pope, "Hope springs eternal in the human breast."
Finally! Another Brand New record! It will be the first since 2009's Daisy. The group confirmed that the album would be released at some nebulous point in 2016. No matter — this is the beginning of a beautiful new era.
Until we saw the band's latest T-shirt.
"Brand New," it reads, "2000-2018," with an upside down cross made of flowers beneath the dates indicating yet another death or departure of some sort. Onstage during a June 2 show earlier this summer, frontman Jesse Lacey muddled things further by saying the band is "not breaking up" and it's "not playing music for anyone except themselves anymore." Surely, all these twists and turns and misdirection have been meticulously calculated to break our hearts. Brand New fans must have done something awful in a previous life.
Or perhaps the answer is much simpler: Brand New is in no rush to do anything and at this point in its career just wants to go with the flow. After all, its record label is called Procrastinate! Music Traitors. Perhaps that should be the best indicator of the band's current mindset.
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Last year, in an interview with Spanish language outlet RockZone magazine, Lacey succinctly summarized the nature of our romance with Brand New: "I don't know if I mentioned this before, but the mystery that exists around our band and the level of respect our fans have towards [sic] the band is a mystery to us. The reality is that we don't even know what's going to happen next."
But does Brand New respect us? Is that what our relationship is to you — a mystery? It's been seven years since you brought us any new gifts. We can't take this anymore. Maybe it's best if you —
No, don't go! Just kidding. We could never quit you, baby.