Say Anything
Say Anything


4.5
superb

Review

by Eric USER (161 Reviews)
October 31st, 2009 | 273 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: How much more can we really expect? Say Anything is at the crescendo of their skyrocketing career, and their self-titled is the result of two great releases that just got surpassed.

Well, here we go again. Say Anything’s self-titled is bound to be chained to many of the same reactions and headlines that bound critically acclaimed bands this year- “Say Anything sells out,” “If this were any other band it would be dismissed,” and of course the Max Bemis diehards that wouldn’t let the most loathsome of releases stand in their way from calling this a classic. Thankfully, Say Anything falls somewhere in between but it’s much easier for the latter commentators to justify their opinion than it is for the former critics. Coming off an ambitious double album, Say Anything manage to keep their swag and keep the ball rolling. Streamlined and focused, Say Anything is catchy and complete, simple yet satisfying. It’s hard not to compare this to ... Is a Real Boy, but subsequent listens prove that Max and company have, in fact, matured from their earlier days where two lines wouldn’t pass without an innuendo.

A winning formula is at work, here. Realizing there was little not to love on neither ... Is A Real Boy nor In Defense Of the Genre, Say Anything manage to retain the positive factors that made them successes, but also weed out a few of the little snags. The most pronounced of these factors is the length. In Defense was much too wieldy and large, Bemis seemed to have forgotten he was still stuck in the pop-punk realm and the epic structure of the album was at odds with the nature of the music. Though, Bemis keeps the benefits that were apparent on In Defense, namely the musical diversity that was a little lacking on ... Is a Real Boy. One listen to the strings beginning album-highlight “Do It Better” or the horns on follower “Less Cute,” and I can’t help but be reminded of the genius behind “Baby Girl, I’m a Blur.”

By the way, remember that catchy little ditty? Imagine that bouncing, super-catchiness and multiply it by 13. The most obvious attribute on Say Anything is really unsurpassed by any other band this year. While Say Anything has never really struggled with creating exceptional melodies, I can’t help but think that Say Anything is their most consistent and phenomenal output in this aspect. “Eloise,” with a chorus that just defines “catchy,” is probably the pinnacle of this achievement. That being said, that crown could be placed on almost any song here, “Less Cute,” “Mara and Me,” “Do Better,” the list goes on and on.

You would think Bemis would run out of witty lines eventually, right? LIke he says himself on, “Mara and Me,” “I can’t define myself through irony and self deprecation.” On the surface, this is what ... Is a Real Boy centered around, and In Defense continued on. Say Anything has Bemis perfecting those feelings, refining them, and presenting convincingly, amazingly without losing that charm or sincerity. “Did you know that there are people in the world, who are angry with all the other people in the world, and of all these angry people in the world, I am the angriest boy,” Bemis recites to a cheering crowd. Simple and blunt, “I Hate Everyone” is Say Anything at their most harsh and critical, yet feels a bit empty until he pulls out the specifics about “the pills I ate for breakfast,” “my girlfriend though she’s feminine,” “that hospital in Texas,” and then ends with the ironic, “that’s why I’m a humanist.” The references are endless and everybody from Bjork, to scientoligists, to The Kings of Leon are unable to escape the sharp bite of Bemis’ songwriting. Like I mentioned earlier, though, it’s apparent some growing up has taken place. Yes, it’s a 25 year old college dropout at the forefront of the songwriting here, but Max Bemis seems to have evolved. Instead of concentrating exclusively on himself and his psychotic tendencies, Bemis expands a little to encompass things like broad spirituality. Don’t worry, Say Anything retains that great auto-biographical feel, it just seems a little less vain.

If there’s one thing every Say Anything record has in common, it has to be the amazing closer that leaves you with a feeling of completeness. Say Anything and “Ahhh... Men" is no exception. Max’s rabid sputtering builds to a crescendo over a background chorus of “Can I lie with you in your grave?” and eventually explodes into a puff of smoke.

Say Anything hasn’t changed their sound much, to their benefit, I would argue. Sharp, catchy pop-punk is obviously Say Anything’s forte. What they have improved upon is the way they’ve gone about creating the album. Say Anything is more succinct and concise than In Defense, yet feels just as complete as their breakout, ... Is a Real Boy. Satisfying and complete, this is the record fans and non-fans alike have been waiting for. Simply, Say Anything is at their absolute best on their self-titled. The self-consciousness of Max Bemis is constructive and very favorable in the sense that he was able to create an album that maintained all the momentum they had built with strong past releases, yet added enough fresh material to call it progression.

Whether it’s the fascination or the excitement, I don’t know, but most people love fireworks. For some unknown reason they always make me feel just a bit better. This isn’t a misfire, by any means. Like a firework, Say Anything is captivating and dazzling throughout. As the album shoots up into the sky with all its little intricacies and uniqueness, it’s almost more fun to just ignore the details and take the experience as a whole. Fast-paced and colorful, the record peaks at just the right spot, and at the apex it explodes into a frenzy. While you wish it could’ve stuck around just a little longer, you soon realize that it was just substantial enough to leave a lasting imprint, yet not too long to become tedious and boring. Say Anything are going to have to work hard if they plan on topping their self-titled, because though it’s early, this simply sounds like perfection of the sound Say Anything was aiming their firework for. What else could you really ask for?



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user ratings (756)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Schizophrenik
October 31st 2009


843 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

good review. i think this might be their best

YouAreMySilence
October 31st 2009


3727 Comments


Was never much of a fan of these guys.
Should check this out though.
Excellent review.
Pos'd.

Cesar
October 31st 2009


2732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pretty amazing album, grew on me quickly.

You are in my body...

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
October 31st 2009


28817 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Say Anything is more succinct and concise than In Defense..."

this sounds like a REALLY bad thing, even though you qualify it in the words that follow. I still dk
im gonna wait for the 3rd...

also i think bemis is older than 23.

p.s. no cursing?

Digging: Charli XCX - Sucker

DiceMan
October 31st 2009


7068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

p.s. no cursing?


He is a self-proclaimed Christian now. But I think that this review means that I should finally start looking into Say Anything.

Avirov
October 31st 2009


1206 Comments


and I can’t help but be reminded of the genius behind “Baby Girl, I’m a Blur.”


I guess this is where the line is really drawn between Say Anything fans, I couldn't stand that song. Good review.

SeaAnemone
October 31st 2009


20953 Comments


Yea, my bad about the "23", fixed to 25. And yeah, the Christian thing definitely shows through, I felt it wasn't too early to review this, but I couldn't confidently delve into that too far, and felt it wasn't too necessary. Thanks for the pos', anything else that needs fixin'?


Digging: Viet Cong - Viet Cong

Gyromania
October 31st 2009


16088 Comments


Fantastic review, very descriptive and enjoyable to read. Just two things here:

"yet feels just as complete their breakout, ... Is a Real Boy"

-I think you forgot to put 'as' in there.

" “Ahhh... Men: is no exception. "

You forgot to close the quote. Just two minor things though, the writing is perfect. Pos.

SeaAnemone
October 31st 2009


20953 Comments


Thanks for the help... I wanted to go more in depth than I usually do because I feel like this warrants it, hope I do it justice.

Gyromania
October 31st 2009


16088 Comments


You certainly did . I don't mean to nitpick, I just noticed those things. You convinced me to listen to it though- I just finished the last track (I have a bad tendency to skip to the best songs first) and it was great.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
October 31st 2009


17231 Comments


this is good but not better than Is a Real Boy

SeaAnemone
October 31st 2009


20953 Comments


I felt like theyre undoubtedly similar, this just seems to be more consistent, as IARB fell off track in a few spots and shined in others.

Yotimi
October 31st 2009


6570 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0


Good review. I've listened to this twice now and it is much better than IDOTG. But not nearly as good as IARB. I'm kinda torn. The musicianship and creative solos shine throughout most of the album, but the lyrics can be a little cheesy and "Crush'd" is absolutely horrible. I need to listen more though.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
October 31st 2009


17231 Comments


the only song that could be considered not up to snuff on IARB is Chia-like I Shall Grow. This on the other hand has a couple duds, most notably "Do Better". Also, while "Eloise", "Ahh... Men", and "Cemetary" are great they don't come close to "Alive With the Glory of Love" "Every Man has a Molly" "Admit it" or "Belt"

SeaAnemone
October 31st 2009


20953 Comments


I loved "Do It Better," I thought the duds on IARB were more outstanding, most notably, Chia, Slowly, an Orgy of Critics, everything else is fantastic. It is very hard to compare opinions though... while all very positive, I hear such diverse outlooks on IARB

Fugue
October 31st 2009


7354 Comments


Aquired this earlier, I'm yet to listen to it but good review makes me anticipate good things.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 31st 2009


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Woh, review definitely has me interested. Then again, pretty much every Say Anything review on this site is a hype machine. Good review Arnold.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
October 31st 2009


3780 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I really like the positive energy on this, it makes me a happy panda.

Bemis' line "I can’t define myself through irony and self deprecation" is one of the best things he's ever written.

And a great review too, the only minor thing that bugged me was: 'the epic structure of the album was unmatched by the nature of the music.' - I'd change 'unmatched by the' to 'at odds with', because unmatched usually has positive connotations attached to it. But thats me nitpicking.


Schizophrenik
October 31st 2009


843 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

awesome dig streetlight

SeaAnemone
October 31st 2009


20953 Comments


Streetlight- no, thanks for the nitpicking! I have a hard time seeing that in my own writing so it helps to have criticisms.



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