Review Summary: This is the tale of a bearded sloth who debases himself so they can get their rocks off!
It’s become so acceptable to hate Say Anything now, that I don’t think I know anyone who is still a “fan” of the band anymore. Mostly it’s “They used to be really good” or “I like the self titled ironically” but it always devolves to this: Anarchy, My Dear!
is apparently the worst thing to ever happen to music… ~ever~. Truthfully, I think I've heard maybe three songs from it and then stopped because, yeah, “the crap rains down” is probably one of the most cringe inducing lyrics ever written. From what I gathered, however, that album seems to be reviled because Max was generally a happy guy and content with not being the cynical asshole he always was. The thing is, Hebrews
see’s Max Bemis spend almost its entire lyrical run trying to reconcile his self loathing and bitter cynicism with the fact that he has a wife and kid now that he quite likes, and a fan base that he cannot possibly win with. To top that off, he pretty much just abandoned guitars on this album. I mean, come on, if he had locked himself in a record studio for two weeks, this would be as close to the manic background that Is a Real Boy
had that we’d ever manage to get again.
Delving too deeply into Hebrews
is sort of pointless, as descriptors like “poppy as hell”, “musically varied and inventive”, and “cutesy and bright to the extreme” will just turn off any old fan immediately and not prepare any newcomers for Bemis’ frankly gross delivery of his lines and rhymes. “Judas Decapitation” is the perfect encapsulation of the record, with discussions on Bemis’ view of his former fan base and its relation to his career and family, while mixing strings in with pop-punk hooks and gang vocals. While there are plenty of up tempo burners to get older fans brought back in, it’s really the slower moments on the album that come out as the most relevant. “Push” is the last song anyone would have ever expected to be written by Say Anything in 2004, a dark and brooding contemplation on what religion means and what it has become in modern culture, that eventually leads into the most genuinely gorgeous section of music Say Anything have ever made, complete with a wonderfully quirky refrain from Aaron Weiss. While the record suffers from the huge dichotomy between bravado Bemis attempting to justify his art to the world and himself and the reflective part of him that just wants to explore themes of love, death and religion, the songs are all so distinctive that there’s never any confusion as to what he is trying to get across.
the album Say Anything fans have been waiting for since 2007? No. It’s essentially a response to Anarchy, My Dear
with much more clarity and purpose. Where that album was bogged down in trying to prove it was a “Say Anything Record”, Hebrews
is a wholly new kind of album fr the band. Is it cheesy, over the top and a little too saccharine? Yeah, but the first two of those apply in spades to the first couple Say anything records anyways, and honestly I’d rather have someone singing sweet nothings to me when they’re in their 30’s than try and continue spewing venomous bile that they haven't believed in since their early 20's. If you think Bemis has somehow personally slighted you in some way despite never having interacted with you, avoid this album. You will only become more distraught about your place in some dude in a bands life. If you want to hear some good songs sung by a guy who has a lot of issues with himself, but can still recognize that his self-important bull*** comes second to people he has invested himself heavily in, check out Hebrews