The album kicks off with this weird recording of a female voice talking about how a patient is going to be recounting a dream with eerie tones in the background then it goes to the patient talking about her dream. It's just really unnerving and while it doesn't seem like it would fit, it actually does. Then it hits with the guitars that sound reminescent of Nirvana's Come As You Are where it sounds like it's almost underwater. The drumming is almost non-existent pretty much just tapping it feels dreamy. Everything is accented with Jesse Lacey's unmistakable droning vocals. There's a nice ebb and flow to everything despite staying in the same tempo the whole time. Can't Get It Out feels almost like it was written during their Deja Entendu days with its surging choruses. Waste comes in with an acoustic guitar and again the droning vocals there's a bit of pickup during the choruses but not quite as much the previous song, it manages to be pretty catchy.
Could Never Be Heaven is a pretty straight forward neo-folk song but it highlights a main issue I have with a lot of Brand New's songs. It feels like they wrote part of a song and then hit copy and paste until they had a full song. It just feels mostly flat and repetitive. In the case of this song it still manages to work on the strength of Lacey's work during those choruses. The best song on the album is Out Of Mana. It kicks things up a bit with a energetic intro leading into the flowing softer verses that are dragged out until you hit the open and loud choruses. Desert is another song that works really well despite being very minimal. One of the things that does help elevate all the songs is the strength of the lyrics. They all tell a story of family, religion, regret, nostalgia, and love.
So what is my verdict? Well if you didn't like Brand New before you probably won't like them because this album and if you were a fan before there's a lot here to like. Honestly I like the album overall. It's not something I'm going to be shouting from the rooftops, it sounds like Brand New meaning everything they do well like deep powerful lyrics, songs that seems to travel well, and setting a mood, are there but so are the bad things like the repetitive and droning sounds especially with the vocals are there as well. I'd say it's worth a listen even if you're not a fan, it's not a bad ride and there might be some songs in there you will like but don't expect for it to change your opinion. If you already like them it's a very solid example of their work. It's different enough to feel fresh and that the eight year wait was worth it, but not so out there that it doesn't sound like Brand New.