Review Summary: They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Well, so is music.
Sometimes the circumstances are just right for you to fall in love with an album. A girl just broke up with you, you lost a close family member, etc. Then you listen to something and you just connect with it. Everything about the album, it just makes sense. Well, that’s what I experienced with “…Is A Real Boy,” A girl and I were going to get it on, finally, and then all of a sudden she changed her mind and it was gone. Probably the most sexually frustrated time in my life, and it was only a few days later that I discovered this album.
This is one of the most energy-filled, quirky, chaotic albums I have ever laid ears on. Max’s voice is one of the oddest in the entire music industry, and the music changes constantly; tempo changes can occur as often as 4 times a song. This is another reason that this album appealed so greatly to me; I love music with tempo/musical changes (for example, Paranoid Android is my favorite Radiohead song and Limousine is my favorite Brand New song). Coby Linder’s drumming should not be lost in praising this album; his ability to not only keep up with, but add more to the frenzied music is quite incredible. But the weirdest thing about this album is the lyrics. The lyrics in this album are so blunt and straightforward, it’s ridiculous. With lines like, “When I watch you, wanna do you, right where you’re standing, yeah! Right on the foyer, on this dark day, right in plain view,”, Bemis leaves little to the imagination of the listener and still manages to pen some brilliant lyrics.
And crazy lyrics. You see, Max was a little crazy while this album was being recorded. It’s understandable, considering he played all the instruments for the album save the drums, wrote the lyrics, and composed all of the music all on his own. As a result, he went a bit insane, suffering from drug addictions and immense bipolarity (some of the things he did included harassing children and pouring soup onto the ground one spoonful at a time). After recording the album, he was eventually let into rehab and has not suffered a relapse since.
We’re a bit fortunate that Max was crazy at the time, though. Without it, the album would not have been as great as it is. There would not be the same level of chaotic energy. The lyrics and song topics (which include belts, spiders, and cats) wouldn’t have been as crazy. Because really, that’s the appeal of this album. It’s unique; there wasn’t really anything like it before its release, and there probably won’t ever be again (no matter how much Bemis wants the terribly horrific “Anarchy, My Dear,” to be).
Onto the actual songs. “Belt” is a brilliant opener, a definite highlight. It starts out with Max talking through a recorder about the opening words to the album. The recording sounds go away and Max states, “And the record begins with a song of rebellion,” and just like that, we’re off. The album starts off with a riff that sounds similar to MCR’s “Na Na Na,”. The guitar work on this song is great; it has no apparent pattern in the first verse, and is really upbeat and catchy throughout the song. It’s apparent from the beginning that this will not be a typical pop-punk album; Bemis’s voice and the clever lyrics won’t allow it. “Woe” follows, and is even better, featuring more drastic changes and more biting lyrics. It is a bit more mellow than the previous track, an almost-but-not-quite soft chorus. Lead single “Alive With the Glory of Love,” is incessantly catchy, and actually features a mature lyrical topic (World War II). “Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat,” offers a slight change of pace, at least at the beginning of the track. It starts out with what sounds like a Gameboy turning on. The guitars are soft and haunting, with some synth lines coming in. Then everything drops out except simple guitar chords, and Bemis drops some incredibly odd lyrics, “I watch my yellow cat invade my red cat in the yard. The feline war has raged for years, so I assume it’d be too hard, for me to drive my foot between them, I’d never risk the scratch, just to prove to one or both of them a cat is just a cat,”. Another highlight.
“Spidersong,” opens with a powerful, simple, catchy riff. Guitars drop in and out of the verse on top of a simple, but effective drumbeat by Coby Linder. The coda is one of the best moments in the album, with Bemis singing, “I am cold, too cool to call you, far too stoned to leave my bed. I’ll write this song to win your kiss but stay asleep instead,” over soft guitar. It fades perfectly into the hard-rock intro of “An Orgy of Critics,”, the heaviest song on the album. The second of the album, during the first listens, seems to be a massive drop-off from the first, starting with this track. However, if there is one thing that no one can argue about this album, it is that the album is a grower; it slowly creeps into your brain, making you enjoy every listen more and more. This is mainly due to the little tidbits that are thrown into each song, including a random female voice every now and then.
“Every Man Has a Molly,”, while being an average track on the album, features one of the best lines: “”Here I am, laid bare, at the end of my rope. I’ve lost all hope, so long. Molly Conolly just broke up with me over the revealing nature of the songs. You goddamn kids had best be gracious with the merch money you spend cause for you I won’t ever have rough sex with Molly Conolly again.” “I Want to Know Your Plans,” is a good change-of-pace song, considering it’s the only acoustic track on the album, even featuring harmonica. Some may argue that it should be the last song on the album, but that would be too normal for this particular album. After 50 minutes of weird music, why should it all of a sudden become normal?
It’s much better to end with is undoubtedly the best song on the album, “Admit It!!!,”. The guitars are, in the first verse, sporadic and odd, while Bemis launches an attack on today’s society. The song builds into the chorus, and the energy continues into the second verse. This would be incredibly pompous and annoying, except he makes it all OK by admitting he is the worst of them all, saying, “Well let me tell you this. I am shamelessly self-involved. I spend hours in front of the mirror, making my hair elegantly disheveled. I worry about how this album will sell, because I believe it will determine the amount of sex I will have in the future. I self medicate with drugs and alcohol to treat my extreme social anxiety.” And then when you think the song is running a bit long, that you might not be able to stand this for another two minutes, the best musical section of the album comes along. Starting at the part where he sings, “I drift…”, the palm-muted guitars and piano perfectly mesh. The song slowly fades away with the same piano notes being played, except about 3 octaves higher, while all the other instruments break out in a wild frenzy.
This is one of the most satisfying pop-punk listens out there. That being said, it’s not for everyone. If you like melodic singers or straightforward music that simple and not complex, this album is not for you. But if you think you can handle one of the weirdest singers out there (who can come off like a bit of a jerk), along with incredibly dense music, then I strongly recommend you listen to this album.