Say Anything
In Defense of the Genre


5.0
classic

Review

by Whatsgood USER (2 Reviews)
August 3rd, 2011 | 14 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: They've pretty much done everything under the pop-rock sun.

It's almost frustrating listening to this album. For fans of Say Anything's earlier works, In Defense of the Genre is a shockingly new experience. That's clear from the start. With a strange deep voice luring the listener into an onslaught of angelic choirs and subtle but incredibly effective bass-lines (seriously, pay attention to this, I missed it the first few times), the song blows up into a series of catchy, almost post-hardcore riffs and an insane chorus. That is to say, the differences aren't actually a bad thing. But you definitely wouldn't catch many of these songs on ...is a Real Boy.

I guess it's possible that now Bemis is willing to play more homage to his influences and take his ideas further than on '...is a Real Boy' though, because a lot of this was there, hidden beneath it's indie-rock/pop-punk veneer. The choirs were there in 'The Futile', there was a little glam-rock in 'Woe', and there was angsty, almost post-hardcore riffing on 'Belt' and 'An Orgy of Critics', even the RnB pop kind of stuff could've been hinted at by 'Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too'.

So if all of this is such a logical progression, why does it sound so different?

Because listening to Say Anything's music is a lot like watching, or rather listening to, Max Bemis growing up. And we do change a lot in a short time. That change can (and does) lead to a certain lack of consistency. But it can also mean we've improved ourselves, and gotten better at the things we do. By that I mean, the guitar playing is better, the keyboard playing is much better and the arrangements are more interesting then ever before, with more experimentation and twists around every corner.

Watching a guy grow up is a little depressing though isn't it? Not that Say Anything has really ever been a happy-go-lucky band. But it's a little more than that this time. There's pressure on Max, more than ever now. ...is a Real Boy was pretty well received by critics, especially within the indie-rock/pop-punk scene. But more important than that was that you could tell he put his all into it, it was the kind of album that breaks up bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, At the Drive-in or Refused. Except there was virtually no band to break up.

So for In Defense of the Genre, Bemis had to give it more than his all. It sounds impossible, but he did it. Not through necessarily making something better. But by making something that's still insanely good and never having it feel like a retread of a former song.

In a way it's unfortunate though, because in giving it more than his all, Bemis ended up giving In Defense of the Genre a piece of someone else. Guest vocalists abound is not a problem, and they never steal the spotlight, but the performance often comes off as less personal and the lyrics even moreso. The instrumentals occasionally suffer the same fate too, coming off as slightly derivitive, but never stolen.

In the end though, In Defense of the Genre is a monumental success because it just works. Derivitive, personal, technical or not. It works. Every song is memorable and different enough to set itself far apart while still obviously being a Say Anything, or more importantly, an In Defense of the Genre song. It'll be difficult for Say Anything to prove that they can ever surpass this and ...is a Real Boy without changing drastically, because they've pretty much done everything under the pop-rock sun.


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Comments:Add a Comment 
Whatsgood
August 3rd 2011


177 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Second review, was kind of rushed.

Killahit
August 3rd 2011


311 Comments


not sure what to rate this album or review. I'll get back to you

balcaen
August 3rd 2011


3183 Comments


this is the only full album of theirs i think is actually good. review is spot on though. feels like a custom playlist of only awesome track.

Yotimi
August 3rd 2011


6523 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Pretty good review. I hate almost everything about this album though

Uranium
August 3rd 2011


7248 Comments


pop punk lost its appeal for me somewhere back in highschool

heh

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2011


6498 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Is this a good place to start with this band or do I start with ... Is A Real Boy?

Nice review, man!

Digging: Recondite - Iffy

Whatsgood
August 3rd 2011


177 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I would start with ...is a Real Boy.

I remember being 16 and hearing Chris Conley's voice halfway through this album and not revisiting it for 2 years because holy shit.

Everything grew on me though and after listening to Two Tongues I got used to Conley, even though I still think that performance is pretty weak. :C

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2011


9060 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thank god you have Real Boy 5'd as well because if you didn't I would rip you to shreds

Satellite
August 3rd 2011


20826 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

there's a 5/5 album in here somewhere between all the unnecessary songs and guest spots.

Yotimi
August 3rd 2011


6523 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

yeah I love Conley but this is the worst he's ever sounded

KingAlistair
August 3rd 2011


175 Comments


Very good review didnt really understand the Trophy Scars bit, though.

Was listening to this album last night, actually- it's great for getting you through shitty experiences with girls

Whatsgood
August 3rd 2011


177 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's just when I'm listening to this or Darkness, I feel like some of the instrumentals I've heard somewhere else. But I can't really pinpoint where so I just shrug it off.

ohfoxxxycole
August 3rd 2011


4353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i wish i knew where my copy of this went

Crymsonblaze
August 3rd 2011


7496 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Been jamming this on the way to work so much lately. Disc 2 is so ridiculous.



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