Say Anything
...Is a Real Boy


5.0
classic

Review

by Adam Knott EMERITUS
October 16th, 2009 | 132 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Admit it.

Honesty and the absence of artifice are qualities admired by music fans and critics alike, but the impact they have and the level on which they operate is hugely variable. In law, a distinction is drawn between the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and such an application of truth and honesty is equally valid in the musical arena. In some respects, the most honest form of music is improvised vocals; on one level, any form of instrumentation is a kind of pretense or artifice. But the layers of honesty pile up; how much darkness is honest, and how far can you reveal yourself before the act itself of baring your thoughts becomes forced and fake? It's a line that can only really be drawn in one place - that of impulse and instinct. As soon as you try to be honest in an outward manner, it's inherently dishonest; the only way to stay perfectly pure is never thinking about what's acceptable.

When Every Man Has A Molly crawls into life across one picked electric guitar and another wailing in the background, there's simultaneously so much and so little honesty dripping from Max Bemis' vocals that it's dizzying. As he sings, he grins: Here I am, laid bare, at the end of my rope, I've lost all hope - so long. Molly Connolly just broke up with me over the revealing nature of the songs. Despite the obvious irony in Bemis' lovable, low-pitched whine, there's something unbelievably raw and human about the way he approaches the subject of being too honest. This is the foundation from which Say Anything build a masterpiece - the gulf between what people think and the way they act. Bemis sees it all, and points fingers everywhere (including, frequently, himself); the surface-level target appears to be music scenes, but it runs deeper, to human nature in general, and cuts at every opportunity. ...Is A Real Boy is a record of contradictions, paradoxes and hypocrisy, with enough wit and twists to leave you completely lost, but enough of a message to make complete sense.

Instrumentally, Say Anything are without a doubt top-level pop-punk musicians. Despite being based largely upon raw, mid-tempo guitars, it's one of the least predictable musical performances ever displayed in the genre; Woe's latter stages use a truly anthemic synth line, I Want To Know Your Plans manages not to be a token acoustic ballad (even though it totally should be), and the rhythm section of ...Is A Real Boy struggles with Bemis' frontman role as the album's most impressive showing. Changing tempo 3 or 4 times a song in many cases, there are driving rock passages, head-bopping intros and excellent interludes, all laced with a distorted, raw tone that brings a unique atmosphere which runs all the way from start to finish. Pianos soften certain passages, gang vocals are used phenomenally (Belt's so what say you, and all your friends, meet all of my friends, in the alley tonight?) and though the record is lyrically dense there are a huge number of guitar lines that are allowed to shine at the right times; the record's outros are especially prominent.

But it's not worth pretending that ...Is A Real Boy is about much other than Bemis. Over the course of 13 songs he tackles apathy, conformity, the Holocaust, plenty of sex, love, and in the absolutely epic Admit It!!! he delivers one of the most exciting, self-aware social commentaries ever to be put to music. Speaking above a mess of guitars he condemns hipsters, scenesters and all manner of demographics, asking what do you have to say for yourself? before turning it back onto himself: I self medicate with drugs and alcohol to treat my extreme social anxiety, he shouts, before launching into the album's euphoric final climax. It's special, but it's better than special, because Bemis knows how special it is. And despite his frequent self-deprecation (She took pity on me, horizontally,; most likely because of my band) he probably knows how special Say Anything's second studio album is, too.

When Admit It!!! finds its way away from you, what's left is a hollow impression of something intelligent, addictive and supremely fun; the irony is that anybody who quotes Bemis is exactly the type of person he's talking about, and anybody ignorant to him is just as guilty of the same misgivings. For all that, though, ...Is A Real Boy is a pretty f**king happy record. It's not even about taking solace in the universal nature of it all, or experiencing any sort of epiphany. Its impression is a lasting one, but it's a thoroughly enjoyable record simply because it's just so well-written. Catchy, diverse and without a single moment of filler, ...Is A Real Boy is an absolute staple of the pop-punk genre and any rock fan's music collection, and if you don't agree, then what on earth do you have to say for yourself?

You are a faker: admit it!
You are a fraud: admit it!




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user ratings (1247)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
October 16th 2009


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Basically, reviewing music I adore because Dijon lives in the Dark Ages and my internet is awful / restrictive.



Yotimi
October 16th 2009


6570 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Awesome. Great review. Better than the other ones for this.

robin
Emeritus
October 16th 2009


4261 Comments


i listened to this obsessively for a good two weeks in august and havent touched it since.

: (

WhiteWallStargazers
October 16th 2009


2647 Comments


Good review...still have no real motivation to check out this band though :/

Knott-
Emeritus
October 16th 2009


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I go through phases with this record too robin. I also never listen to IDOTG. But this is slowly working its way into my everyday listening. Ridiculously good.

IndieOut
October 16th 2009


498 Comments


This is a really good review.

PuddlesPuddles
October 16th 2009


4787 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I agree, strikey, props

You make me want to check this out today

Yotimi
October 16th 2009


6570 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Check it out now. Don't bother with IDOTG though, it's garbage compared to this.

Knott-
Emeritus
October 16th 2009


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Completely true. And thanks (:

Athom
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2009


17230 Comments


IDOFTG is great too. I dunno what you're talking about. So far I've yet to enjoy any of the new songs from their upcoming cd.

Say Anything are without a doubt top-level pop-punk musicians.

Max played all the guitar/bass/keys on ...Is a Real Boy just in case you didn't know

Yotimi
October 16th 2009


6570 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I've never tried more to like an album than IDOTG, but every time I listen to it all I can hear is Max saying "I have problems but look how many friends I have". Too long, too many bad guest vocals, the hooks seem more generic and uninspired. Everything about IARB seems fresh and like Max actually has something important to say. I don't hate IDOTG, I was just really let down.

AlexTM510
October 16th 2009


1405 Comments


i called her on the phone and she touched herself

good review mang pos im gonna give this another listen now

joshuatree
Emeritus
October 16th 2009


3742 Comments


album obv slays, nice stuff

Zip
October 16th 2009


5312 Comments


Really didn;t like what I've heard so far but if anybody has good pop punk recs I'd love to hear em

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
October 16th 2009


862 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

IDOTG is just eaten alive by this. I don't hate that album, it's pretty great at times, I used to love it. Maybe it just doesn't have the lasting power, despite it's length. Everything here just feels so much more honest, it feels a lot more personal so it resonates so much more, while with IDOTG it seems like Max worried too much about his audience and missed the whole point.

Read the review later, super busy. (But not so busy, apparently).

Athom
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2009


17230 Comments


Well Zip, basically the best pop punk albums imo are this, Saves the Day - Stay What You Are, The Get Up Kids - Something To Write Home About, Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends, Dillinger Four - Midwestern Songs of the Americas, Northstar - Pollyanna, Jawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, Motion City Soundtrack - Commit this to Memory, and Descendents - Milo Goes to College

Zip
October 16th 2009


5312 Comments


thanks bro, I'll see what I can do

Yotimi
October 16th 2009


6570 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'll second Saves the Day - Stay What You Are. Greatest pop/punk of all time imo.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2009


17945 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

in defense of the genre is a classic unlike this occasionally awkward album full of growing pains

poopty
October 16th 2009


319 Comments



IDOTG is just eaten alive by this. I don't hate that album, it's pretty great at times, I used to love it. Maybe it just doesn't have the lasting power, despite it's length. Everything here just feels so much more honest, it feels a lot more personal so it resonates so much more, while with IDOTG it seems like Max worried too much about his audience and missed the whole point.

Read the review later, super busy. (But not so busy, apparently).


missed you



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