Say Anything SAY ANYTHING
by Brian Lupo, http://neovox.cortland.edu, November 24, 2009
It's been pretty crazy being a Say Anything fan. Let me explain.
The brains behind the group Say Anything, Max Bemis became a semi-star after the 2004 album ...is a Real Boy was a breakout success. I was 16-years-old the first time I heard this album and you could say that it had the same effect on me that Helter Skelter had on Charles Manson (minus all the sociopathic murders). Every line, every note, and every noise on that album transcended my expectations of what music should be. I became a die-hard Say Anything fan, and they became my favorite band.
In the fall of 2007, their next album In Defense of the Genre was released. I remember the anticipation and excitement of those days. And then I listened to the album; it was pretty disappointing. The problem was, the album was supposed to be this double-album -27-track-epic-godsend. Instead it turned out to be corny, overdone, and inconsistent. It's almost like there was a good CD in there somewhere, but it was too hard to find among 20 tracks of filler.
So after the disappointment of In Defense of the Genre, I was skeptical that Say Anything could put out another great album. Luckily, their self-titled new album is an improvement from In Defense of the Genre but it is still light years away from ...is a Real Boy.
The album opens with an up-tempo acoustic-then-electric piece called "Fed to Death" which is great and I wish that it could be longer than one minute and 16 seconds. The second track is their current single titled "Hate Everyone" which isn't really a witty name because the song is about hating everybody. It is good though. The lyrics are simple, yet efficient. It's catchy and the shouting gang-vocals during the chorus make it a staple of the Say Anything sound.
During the chorus of the third track, "Do Better", Max states "You can do better, You can do better, You can be the greatest band in the world." I find this especially ironic because I remember saying these same things about Say Anything after In Defense of the Genre was released. But this is a good song. The song's got clever lyrics and one of those drum beats you can't get out of your head. I just wish it wasn't so repetitive.
The next several tracks I was particularly unimpressed by. However, "Crush'd", "Death For My Birthday" and "Ahh Men" save this album from more harsh criticism and my trashcan. "Crush'd" is an uncomplicated song about having a crush and it works especially well because it's one of the few songs on this album that has a well-done transition between the verses, bridges, and choruses. In fact this song would be one of their all-time best songs if during the chorus Max didn't say "bah-bay." This isn't The Jonas Brothers, Max. Don't say "baby", "bah-bay", "bebe" or any variation.
"Death For My Birthday" is probably the best song on the album. It might sound like a dumb title, but the song is great. It's straightforward, consistent and doesn't include any of the things that hurt the other songs. What I'm talking about are the electric drums, keyboards, horns, cheesy background vocals, repetitive lines and unnecessary spoken word interludes in the middle of songs. Although those things might work in some cases, they don't work here at all. Thankfully Max was kind enough to keep some of those things absent in some tracks, leaving "Death For My Birthday" to be an excellent example of Say Anything's work.
The final track, "Ahh Men" was the one song I liked since I heard the album (My first impression of the album was far from positive). It's a slow song, but it builds up as it goes along, and by the end it explodes into a wonderful melody. This was a great track to end the album with, and as far as intro-conclusion goes, Say Anything executes both of them very well here.
I think as time goes on, I may grow to like this album more. I enjoy a lot of it, but there are parts of it I hate, and will probably always hate. Although it is an improvement from their last effort, I'm starting to come to the conclusion that ...is a Real Boy is one of those once-in-a-career types of albums, and even if I held this album to its own standards and didn't compare it to ...is a Real Boy, it would still only be good; not great.
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