“Deja entendu” is a French term. Just like “deja vu,” it takes the idea of repetition as a way the human mind interprets time. In this case, to have a “deja entendu” experience is to hear something you think you’ve heard before. More often than not, the sound is being heard for the first time. It’s just being mistakenly identified as something that’s been heard before. Brand New named their second studio album after this term, and while it may be a play on words in direct comparison to the name of the band, it seemingly is a “deja entendu.”
But the “deja entendu” experienced when listening to this album doesn’t directly fit the definition, just as music doesn’t fit any mold, ideal, or substantiality. It’s just music. One could interpret the sensation to be one of incompletion. While listening to the album for the first time is a fresh experience, each following listen brings a similar feeling. It’s as if listening to this album is digging for gold; the sight is beautiful at first, but eventually, as the underground mine begins to empty out, you realize that there is much more than meets the eye. The gold holds a quality that is beyond words, beyond the idea of a single sensation. The pleasure is beyond imagination, and beyond the constraints of a single soundwave. It fills every cell and resonates against every bone. The connection between sound and body feels different every time, just as the location of the sounds, the mood of the body, and the atmosphere of the relative immediacy ranges from person to person, time after time.
Listening to Deja Entendu is like digging for gold. To listen to an album is a repetitive experience, but to have a “deja entendu” is a first timer’s incorrect assumption at the identity of a song, an album, a chorus. Therefore, the subsequent listens become the album’s biggest inconsistency. To hear an album over and over again is not a “deja entendu.” But to hear something over and over again knowing the sensations, knowing the feelings, is an experience that feels new every time. It could be screaming the hook of “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows.” It could be the acoustic guitar strums of “Play Crack the Sky” creating a sadness among sanity. The song ends the album, then the album begins again. Eventually, it creates a newfound effect in between the ripples of repetition.
If you’re doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome, then Deja Entendu is the exact definition of insanity. But hearing to this album redefines the sanity within the blood and guts of the listener, and the ear of the beholder is impacted by something so perfect that it redefines perfection. Deja Entendu brings a vibe every time, a “deja vu” experience; but trip after trip, the vibe feels brand new. Time affects the meaning the record has, and the experiences that revolve around it give the album an ever-changing hue. Eventually, as time weathers our memories, we feel ourselves become sealed by experiences like that of gold mining. Time just succumbs people to the beauty of the past and the existence of the present to feel that beauty.
No one finds Brand New to be the most innovative artist in the world; they just find their attempts at intuition – creating an album inevitably righteous and self-spoken – to create a perfect connection between album and listener. This connection is so vast, in fact, that it extends past the boundaries of music and lyrics.
A Saturday night is as comforting as “Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis,” with the opening guitar riff echoing through the head of a sober college student as he ponders what his parents taught him about growing up. But at the end of the day, it’s not the words of parents, but the sad, sickening sensation Jesse Lacey makes him feel in the following verses that detracts him from the alcohol. The horror is the intuition, and the music is the atmosphere. The song may not be playing, but its presence is always felt.
“If I Ever Need Attention, All I Have to Do Is Die” steals guitar sections from Eagles’ “Hotel California” to prove the album title’s point. If a “deja entendu” is a sound heard before, then this track is an appropriate response to the title. It attempts to make use of the past to reincarnate the present. When teenage suicide and rapid mood swings envelop the adolescent experience, all it takes is a swift seven minutes to re-identify what angst means, and how its presence can be interpreted. Angst is flawed, miscommunicated and falsely identified. Lacey’s vocals are a potent reflection of this, taking advantage of emotional lyrical patterns in order to fully realize how a “deja entendu” is more than just a sound heard before. It’s a ripple effect; the words meet the melodies, the feelings meet the setting, and the music becomes remembered for the images, moods, and experiences that surround them.
With stories of sexual escapades and stout weakness, sometimes the attachment of Rushmore’s Max Fischer to the corroding harmonies of “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades” gives the listener a much more intense intimacy than original intentions may display. It’s the human experience that bonds even the most seemingly strong, and the words that slip off Lacey’s tongue unite the emotions that drip off the face like beads of sweat. Without Deja Entendu, these emotions would be misplaced – possibly tucked under the sheets of a saddened personality, whose understandings as a human being would no longer be tested by a misrouted humility. Everyone is an outcast, while some are just too self-absorbed and ignorant to the fact that they are alone. For these people, on cold autumn evenings, “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t” would cease to be so c-c-c-controversial.
10 years ago, life became weightless. Just like the astronaut on the album cover, gravity became nonexistent. Since June 17, 2003, listeners have become so encapsulated within the beats, the melodies and the lyrics that their lives have become suspended in mid-air, their minds overcome by their hearts beating to the rhythms, and time interrupted by the compression of space into an intangible grain of sand. To metaphorically hold this grain of sand in your hand is to listen to Deja Entendu. To watch this sand wither away is to watch time reconstruct it into something useful. What the use is differs from person to person, but at the end of the day, the sand is the sand, and the record is the record.
Deja Entendu is gold. It is intuition. It is new repetition. It is both perfection and imperfection. It is the lifeblood of bloodless intangibility, and it expands the outer limits of human connection. It is a masterpiece.