Jesse Lacey has to read the comments, right? “I Am a Nightmare” is maybe the second entry in Brand New’s artisanal “one song per year” series on their Procrastinate! Music Traitors label, maybe part of their eternally TBD LP5 that might be the last realistic “break the internet” surprise album we’ve got. And here’s the man in his own words: “I’m not a prophecy come true/I’ve just been goddamn mean to you.”
It’s directed at either Jesus, his wife, or his fans—probably all three. And so, in true, maddening Brand New form, “I Am a Nightmare” acknowledges the crippling effect of the expectations and somehow refuses the necessity to retroactively dignify them. Similar to “Mene,” this is streamlined, purist emo-punk that neither placates the Your Favorite Weapon diehards or the ambitious major label LPs responsible for their unexpected, stratospheric credibility. It’s a challenge posed as a compromise—“I Am a Nightmare” features the most instantaneous hook Lacey’s written in over a decade, and with its references to resurrection and the Penitent Thief, speaks the same ecclesiastical language as The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me and Daisy.“Coming out of the ground and it’s kinda freaking me out,” he sings on the hook. Yeah, us too.