Review Summary: Say Anythings latest release shows what pop punk should and can be, that is, all out aggression with a little fun thrown in there.
I would first like to say that John did a very good, in depth review on this album, but it was a little long, so i'm gonna try and clean things up a bit. The album, while long, can definitely be summed up in a reasonably sized review. There will be no mention of individual songs, but, rather ironically as you will see, I will discuss the album as a whole.
Now to it.
So there's those albums that you have to listen to, first track till the last, straight through, to truly get what the artist is trying to say, musically. The album tells a story, is supposed to evoke a roller coaster of emotions. Circle Takes The Square's "As The Roots Undo" comes to mind. So imagine those. Now think of the exact opposite. Thats what Say Anything's new album "In Defense Of The Genre" is.
What we are looking at is 27 stellar tracks that each take you on their own musical journey throughout, as only Say Anything can do. Coming in at around 90 minutes, the average time for a full length feature film, it is no way like watching a movie, but rather a compilation of short films that are all related, but have their own unique story to tell.
This isn't a knock on the album at all. It is one of the few times I would describe a good album this way. This album, like ...Is/Was A Real Boy, is a peak at the deranged mind that is Max Bemis. Track after track of intricate metaphor is an ode or rant about broken or sprouting relationships and a knock at the establishment. It is a bible for the broken hearted, for the pissed off youth of the world, who still like to have a good time. That is, after all, what pop punk is supposed to be, and nobody does it better than Bemis.
What really carries the album, and makes it more than your average pop punk album, is the always original voice of Bemis. While he may at times seem to be whining, it in no way comes off the way it does with most, due to the rehearsed aggression that he shouts out. This tone serves to the dichotomy that is Say Anything, that is, full out anger, as well the pour your heart out love songs. That is why I love Say Anything. Bemis will rock you down to your bones. You can feel the aggression, but you still come away with a smile on your face.
And lets not leave out, besides vocals, what makes Say Anything anything but your average pop punk band. While the album is certainly very listener friendly, you will not be bombarded by a 3 chorded army. Bemis uses some of the most interesting phrasings since Jeff Buckley, and is certainly miles ahead of his peers. While the music may not stand out by itself, like Buckley, it compliments the vocals perfectly. At times on the verge of schizophrenia, Bemis brings us everything from your classic pop punk tunes, to pounding choruses that make you want to break something, to up beat show tune-esque anthems. The album only benefits from this fit. Like Forrest Gump said, you never know what your gonna get.
Will this album be talked about 30 years from now, like the Led Zeppelin's and Elvis's of the world? Probably not. But within the genre of pop punk, it is surely a classic, and a beacon of hope. It shows the true potential of the genre, a genre that has always been slighted by the music elite.