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Jessica Vale - "Brand New Disease" (CD)

Jessica Vale - "Brand New Disease" CD cover image

"Brand New Disease" track listing:

1. Black and Blue (2:27)
2. Lonely Life (4:26)
3. Exit 12 (3:47)
4. Brand New Disease (4:49)
5. No Soul (3:24)
6. Verses From The Rooftop (2:27)
7. Night In Sarajevo (6:00)
8. Time Stands Still (3:54)
9. You Don't Wanna Know (3:48)
10. Mirror Check (3:06)
11. Together Alone (5:16)

Reviewed by on March 14, 2009

"'Brand New Disease' sounds just like what you would expect from an album that was recorded in a Tribeca studio where struggling artists squat in squalor."

Take a moment and think of all the melancholy, emo mainstream artists you can list. Does your list include the likes of The Cure, Concrete Blonde, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Tori Amos, Depeche Mode, and maybe at times U2? Then you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Jessica Vales’ 2007 release, "Brand New Disease," sounds like.

Vale left quite an impression with her debut, "The Sex Album." Unfortunately, whereas it was full of erotic industrial and dance mixes, "Brand New Disease" is simply monotone and depressing. Once again, Vale speaks rather than sings most of her lyrics, which is truly disappointing, since the brief glimpses of her singing offer up an uncanny similarity to the reigning queen of beautiful melancholia, Tori Amos.

What gave "The Sex Album" such appeal was how smart the lyrics were. Those who bought the album expecting something reminiscent of Madonna’s "Erotic" were sorely disappointed when they learned that Vale’s music was never crass. Unfortunately, "Brand New Disease" sounds just like what you would expect from an album that was recorded in a Tribeca studio where struggling artists squat in squalor. And with the exception of "Exit 12," the lyrics on this one are emo while making fun of emo.

From "No Soul," to "Mirror Check," Vale displays a scathing hatred for punk guys in makeup, and people who are "all the same, with different wardrobes." Yet, with her industrial/goth compositions, she’s biting the hand that feeds her. The pinnacle moment of all this bleakness comes in the final track, "Together Alone." If this is the "token happy song," it’s no wonder emos have such a bad rep.

The title track features a chorus very reminiscent of the tune "Charades," from the 1980’s musical Grease 2. The lyrics in "Brand New Disease" are also nearly as depressing as Michael’s journey through self-pity.

For fans of goth rock, there are two good choices that won’t have you slitting your wrists. "Time Stands Still" and "You Don’t Wanna Know" are melodic classic goth, both reminiscent of The Cure, and their diversion from all minor chords is a nice reprieve. Overall, though, unless you’re in the mood for monotony and gloominess, save "Brand New Disease" for the boys in makeup and chains.

Highs: "Exit 12" is smart and entertaining; "Time Stands Still" and "You Don’t Wanna Know" are good goth tunes.

Lows: Too much spoken vocals, and the album is depressing overall.

Bottom line: Unless you like music that brings you down, pass this one up.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)