Somewhere along the road, the offshoot of American punk-rock commonly referred to as emotional hardcore stopped being about gut-churningly earnest bursts of angst and started being like Brand New's Your Favourite Weapon
--an album of catchy, honey-sweet pop-punk tunes about what it's like to get together, break up and get together again with pretty girls. "This isn't high-school!" shrieks lead singer Jesse Lacey on "Last Chance to Lose Your Keys"--but it's pretty clear that Dawson's Creek
-style affairs of the heart are the order of this day.
Musically, Brand New are a little more refined than their peers like Good Charlotte, handling minor-chord melancholy and fraught acoustic sections as well as they deal with the mosh-friendly chorus. Mind you, it's Brand New's skill at storytelling that makes this much more than an exercise in juvenilia: "Tell all the English boys you meet /About the American boy back in the States / The American boy you used to meet" goes "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad", a tenderly-observed story of a relationship conducted over transatlantic phone lines that's slowly, painfully hitting the skids. --Louis Pattison