Review Summary: Although its not as consistently good as their other albums, Say Anything by the band of the same name is a great addition to their discography and an album that reeks of fun.
Max Bemis is a bit of an idol of mine; it's been quite the triumph to watch him overcome his bipolar disorder and I think the stability that he's received certainly shows through in his musical progression. If ...Is a Real Boy was a messy, raw masterpiece that reveled in his craziness and In Defense of the Genre was his recovery, then this self-titled release his certainly his return to sanity. Don't be fooled though, this album does have it's fair share of crazy moments, like condemnation of everyone (including himself) on Hate Everyone, the circus sounds of Mara and Me, and the spoken word snark of Property. Max obviously knows that he's been through a lot and has decided to allow his music to show that, but never so much that it becomes a pain to listen to.
Let's not kid ourselves, Max IS the band; if you don't like him, you aren't going to like the band just based on drummer Coby Linder's contributions (which are few on this album). Max can admittedly be a little much to handle on the first listen, but once you get hooked, you'll stay there. He winds his way from singing, to pretty much whispering in the verses of Eloise, to screaming in the bridge of the final track, making the most out of his limited vocal prowess. He oozes charisma which more than makes up for his lack of a traditionally good voice, and every track on the album has something interesting that he brings to the table vocally. Among the coolest moments have to be the climax of Eloise and the end of Cemetery, which is probably one of his best moments on any Say Anything record.
The biggest flaw with this album is it's consistency, as it does have a couple of duds in the form of She Won't Follow You and Young, Dumb, and Stung. These aren't bad songs in their own right, but the former is pretty middle of the road while the latter simply falters from false aggression and a somewhat annoying rhyme scheme. However, the good on this album far outweighs the bad, and it would behoove you to listen to this album whether you're a Say Anything fan or not. It's Bemis-y enough to keep the SA fans interested, yet accessible enough to draw in new fans with its eclectic sound. Like the kid on the front of the album, Max is my hero.