Say Anything
...Is a Real Boy


3.5
great

Review

by John weathered old reviewer Hanson STAFF
February 6th, 2007 | 560 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "...is a Real Boy" is both at once immensely satisfying and immensely dissapointing; a grower if there ever was one, but beware of the fact that it isn't the second coming of pop-punk.

Say Anything (AKA Max Bemis and Coby Linder here) are a rock/pop-punk band who really hade very little credibility before the release of …is a Real Boy. Their previous album, Baseball was extremely generic and all around terrible, and even Bemis refuses to play any material for it. Recognizing this fact, he set out to make something much more grand with …is a Real Boy. Whether he succeeded in creating what he wanted to is up for interpretation, but regardless of that, the album is assuredly enjoyable.

Pop-punk gets lost in a lot of monotony; the songs all sound the same since every band has a strict formula they follow. Sometimes they can break out of this (Certain blink 182 material, Coheed & Cambria’s first album, Gatsby’s Americans Dream), which is something Bemis accomplishes here. The songs all seem to have a distinct feeling; whether it’s the slow and droning “Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat” or the epic and moving “Admit It!” Sometimes they don’t do that particularly well (“The Writhing South” is just annoyingly poppy, and “The Futile” is too brazenly spiteful for its own good), but for a whole, the album transcends pop-punk cliché’s in a suitable manner.

Then again, not much innovation goes on in pop-punk in the first place, so its really a relative comparison that makes this album so highly regarded. It could also be, however, the incredible high's Max Bemis has as both a singer and lyricist. Not to overuse the term, but pop-punk also has a rather large dearth of intelligent lyrics, and this is another case where Say Anything transcends their style. Songs like "Alive With the Glory of Love" which documents the separation of lovers in hard times are superbly written ("Should they kill me, your love will fill me, as warm as the bullets" is one of the cuter moments on the album). "Admit It!," the magnum opus of the album, has pointed lyrics attacking today’s scene lifestyle, and eventually how Bemis deals with all of the bullshit. Sometimes, his wit and distaste can be a bit much ("The Futile" in particular sounds a bit too jaded), but as a whole he writes extremely entertaining songs with more than the "lol my girlfriend dumped me over myspace" message bands like Red Jumpsuit Fagarratus give.

Sometimes, it can be a bit much, and that’s when Bemis' songwriting and singing kick into full gear. Well, not quite, but close enough for me to spend two sentences on that and then this. What he does best for the songs is add in little tidbits that make things more interesting. At their core, most of these songs are really quite basic and straight-forward pop songs, excluding maybe “Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat,” and its these extra bits he adds that makes it all the more interesting. Whether it be a guitar tone chance, a synth or key line thrown in, or the sudden appearance of a sultry woman’s voice, he does keep you interested in the songs, if only for a while. He’s also a surprisingly engaging singer; not having a great voice, he makes up for it by delivering most of the songs with more than a bit of venom and bitterness, I mean hell, he got admitted during the recording of this album for what essentially amounts to his immense bi-polarness. He has to hate himself, just a little.

For how great this album is, it gets bogged down in what it should have been. Bemis is a great songwriter, but perhaps he has a problem with knowing when to stop. The songs could all use a chorus (or entire verse section) taken out, and the album clocks in at 58 minutes. What’s happens is a few songs where you're intently hooked, but when the magic of the music and his singing/lyrics wears off a bit, it gets easily tiring. "Woe" for how much fun it is for its first half, gets extremely tedious and repetitive after two minutes. While it normally wouldn't be a giant problem, when the album is an hour long and its difficult to listen to more than 20 minutes of it at a time, you sincerely wish the band would have left off 2 or 3 tracks.

The album is best summer up by its swan song, "Admit It!." Interesting lyrically, passionate singing, neat music, but extremely tiring after a minute or two. But then at the end, there's this huge wave of greatness and realization "(starting at the "I drift..." bridge), rivaling and somewhat comparable to what a tragic hero would experience near the end of any great Shakespearean tragedy. ...is a Real Boy is, taken in chunks, one of the best pop-punk listening experiences you'll ever have. While a few songs are duds, for the most part you can listen to any combination of 3 or 4 songs here and be satisfied. Much past that, though, and you'll start to get antsy for something a bit less...well, Say Anything like. One can only hope their upcoming double album can fully realize Bemis' vision for the perfect rock/pop-punk record, or else all that talent could end up going to waste for another three years.

Until then, I'll listen to "Belt", "Alive With the Glory of Love", "Spidersong" and "Admit It!" until my ears stop bleeding from all the Atreyu in the world.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My first new review in over a month. Meh, I just felt like doing this for some odd reason.
I used to hate this album, but it unfortunately grew on me over time .

grungeguy88
February 6th 2007


788 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album was a pleasant suprise for me. Although his lyrics are obscene and totally inappropriate sometimes, its almost refreshing to hear someone so brutally honest in this world of appeasement and spin.

Great review.

Angmar
February 6th 2007


2689 Comments


Say Anything are one of the few pop punk bands i kind of enjoy great review too.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
February 6th 2007


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

the songs you like are the best songs on the album for me too. I liked the review mucho.

descendents1
February 6th 2007


702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the review is great! the album is great! really accurate analysis of the album, though i feel that some of the songs mentioned are just fine.

Two-Headed Boy
February 6th 2007


4527 Comments


I still need to get this.

Good work, old bean.

The Jungler
February 6th 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Good job on the review. I thought you disliked this a lot more, nice to see I'm wrong. Our opinions differ a lot, but I can definitely understand what your saying.
This is probably my favorite Pop-Punk album of all time (Blink-182 might edge it out). So many good tracks.

Intransit
February 6th 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol

Seeing a positive review of this album from you is quite shocking, moreso than some of Bemis' lyrics. Good work though

I like this album alot, although I do agree with you that its hard to listen to all at once.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2007


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good album, suck review

altrockdude
February 6th 2007


150 Comments


i think this is the greatest pop punk album ever. you cannot tell me that this album is boring, or unoriginal, because overall... its not. even though i hear baseball sucks, do you know where it is possible to buy it??

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2007


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it's not unoriginal

but it gets boring

The Jungler
February 6th 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, I kinda want to get Baseball too. Suck or not.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks guys. Baseball is in fact very very very bad. Think of Hinder-bad.

The Jungler
February 6th 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

In Defense of the Genre (or whatever it's called) had better be good.

Geography
February 6th 2007


29 Comments


I doubt that it will be beyond the quality of their previous works.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I must say that I cannot see Bemis successfully writing a double album that matches this in quality. He could very well prove to prove me wrong, however.

trustxdialect
February 6th 2007


1502 Comments


good album, suck review



this, if only because you can and have done better.This Message Edited On 02.06.07

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh dear what ever am I to do.

CushMG15
February 6th 2007


1802 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a great cd, but Spidersong, Slowly Through a Vector, and Chia-like I Shall Grow really dragged this down for me. I really dig the bridge in Writhing South, but other than that...it falters. And am I alone in absolutely loving Orgy of Critics?

The Jungler
February 6th 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

And am I alone in absolutely loving Orgy of Critics?
No you are not. I must have listened to that song twenty times last week.



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