This is Not a Review: "Is Max Bemis Really This Much of An Idiot?"
Most of you are probably, what, like 20, or at most 28? In that case, I know you listened to ...Is a Real Boy
and you f**king loved it. I know you saw something in Max's lyrics, whether it was simply condemning pseudo-intellectualism or listening in awkward catharsis to "Every Man Has a Molly" because you thought it would fit in on your break-up playlist. And I know that you thought Max was a genius. His opinions, his truths, his experiences and, above all, his insane personality all came across on this single brilliant formulation of indie rock, emo, pop punk and just general musical quirkiness. And although he never again wrote to that degree of sharp wit and insight on Say Anything's following releases, you never questioned his genius because he was still writing great music with great lyrics and great themes, even if they weren't masterpieces.
But then, Say Anything put out Anarchy, My Dear
, and, all of a sudden, nobody knows who Max Bemis is anymore. The eccentric voice of a generation (and, potentially, an entire age group) has turned into his very own Axl Rose probably about 35 years too early: a lifeless shadow of a shining achievement in the past, only with Max, that achievement happened less than a decade ago. But you can tell yourself that he's probably off his rocker again or that he can still make a great album because this is a practical joke and "Burn a Miracle" is an awesome song. In the end, however, by making any such conclusion about who Max Bemis is now you're just avoiding the real, potentially gut-wrenching question: was Max ever really a genius? Did he really write the album that you thought ...Is a Real Boy
was? Did he really write ...Is a Real Boy
Then, everything evaporates. Of course, you still love ...Is a Real Boy
and In Defense of the Genre
for what they meant to you. It's not like it's at all a controversial statement to say that both those records are powerful, compelling listens. But you think about the Max that you see in those records and the Max on Anarchy, My Dear
, and you wonder, is Max Bemis really this much of an idiot?