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Say Anything - In Defense of the Genre (Cover Artwork)

Say Anything

Say Anything: In Defense of the GenreIn Defense of the Genre (2007)
Sony Music Entertainment

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: GlassPipeMurderGlassPipeMurder
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Shit! Nothing makes sense! This giant hodgepodge of guests…these callow images of raucus kids incapacitating the elderly…a "genre" that stretches 27 songs from emotional pop-punk to pseudo-electro-pop and radio rock…I don't get it! But then again, it's Max Bemis, whose neurotic, narcissistic, and ni.
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Shit! Nothing makes sense! This giant hodgepodge of guests…these callow images of raucus kids incapacitating the elderly…a "genre" that stretches 27 songs from emotional pop-punk to pseudo-electro-pop and radio rock…I don't get it! But then again, it's Max Bemis, whose neurotic, narcissistic, and nihilistic creativity eclipses nearly everyone in popular music today. So I won't think about it.

It would be easy to give the band a free pass after the success of their near-perfect …Is a Real Boy, a painfully realistic account of the hapless confusion and frenzied psycho-sexual frustrations of a growing boy. It probably would have also been easier to try and duplicate the comfortable fusion of pop-rock and punk proudly displayed and perfectly placed within the context of that album's songs. But where both the best and worst of In Defense of the Genre emerge, Say Anything continues to push themselves to the farthest depths of whatever genre this may be.

Disc 1 sets off a spitting, fury-fest of angst, as Bemis lashes out at an innocent girl's corruptor on "Skinny, Mean Man," creepily but heroically admitting "I've watched with my shovel in hand / I have faith in you child, from his nightmares I've plucked a plan / Where that prick is revealed to the world as a wicked man / This is a prayer from your biggest fan." "No Soul" tries for some kind of Hellogoodbye-like electronic beat, falling mostly short despite a strong guest appearance by Anna Waronker of That Dog. The almost loungey "That Is Why" witnesses Bemis acknowledging his vices and bipolar disposition, while the recently separated Adam Lazarra and Fred Mascherino lend their voices to "Surgically Removing the Tracking Device." "Baby Girl, I'm a Blur" is one instance where a new direction (in this case, a synth dance number) simply doesn't quite work out, occupying over four minutes of the first half of the record. The confrontational "Died a Jew" takes on an almost "Guilty of Being White" defensiveness, as Bemis asserts, "You say you hate the shade of my face for my father's sharecrops / But my people were slaves before yours invented hip-hop / I apologize, but I'm in on the joke: another brother to scoff at the dancing patterns of white folk." Though "Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat" off the band's 2004 …Is a Real Boy takes the converse perspective, "Died a Jew" will sadly probably be exploited by at least a few ignorant suburban white kids to back up their ethnocentricism. In stark contrast to the metaphor-heavy bulk of the album, Disc 1's closer "Sorry, Dudes. My Bad." is as vernacular as rock songs come, though an amusing spoken-word skit adds a level of whim that otherwise wouldn't have been present.

Disc 2 doesn't deviate far from the makeup of the first half, though there is much heavier incorporation of acoustic guitars even among the more punk-oriented songs, as the opener "Spay Me" reveals. The title track gives a slight vocal and lyrical nod to the band's fan favorite "Admit It!!!," as Bemis spatters, "So I spew a comet of verbal vomit, sacrilegious, of Christ or Islamic / It's full of piss and they'll never stop it / Come on and kill the kindly ones / The ever blinded ones / We stand and face you now. We will not run / Just you wait and see where your lemming line leads." It may be the album's best, though the following "The Truth Is, You Should Lie With Me" in all its religio-sexual ambiguity is a close contender. Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio makes a helpful contribution to "About Falling," which is really where the second half of the album hits its peak. Unlike the first half, the second seems front-loaded and peppered with filler and humdrum radio rock.

Another thing the album as a whole is missing is the energetic group shouts that backed up Bemis so masterfully on Real Boy. Even so, the 59-second "Hangover Song" adds a little fun, with Bemis' graphic description of the symptom: "I screw my life up evermore as I puke my lungs out on the floor / I fuck my life up evermore as I shit my heart out on the floor."

In the most simple of terms, In Defense of the Genre is as good as anything by Say Anything should be. It's thoughtful, provocative, confrontational, and sometimes awkward. Like the life of Max Bemis the album's story follows, there's good and bad, but the experience has value in itself. Say Anything has done their part to defend the genre…now if only the rest of those cookie-cutter rock bands could do the same…

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Alkaline Trio - GoddamnitSay Anything - ...Is A Real BoyThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Brand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside MeBrand New - Deja EntenduA Wilhelm Scream - Mute PrintThe Clash - London CallingJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyWeezer - WeezerAgainst Me! - As The Eternal Cowboy

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
darkdouchebagdarrel (August 11, 2008)

I didn't care much for this album at first, but it grew on me. A lot of the songs are stuck in my head a lot of the time. Sure, its not as good as Is/Was a Real Boy, but its definitely sweet.

Gooie (August 11, 2008)

I was really excited about this album until I first heard it. I thought it was terrible until I listened to it twice (the same problem I had with "...is a real boy". Afterwards, once you give it a chance, you're able to understand and appreciate it a lot more.

Still, the album was a departure, for better or worse, from "...is a real boy". That doesn't make it any less good. I personally enjoy this album a lot for all the pop-punkyness it has (i.e. Hayley Williams of Paramore fame). In some ways, I like this album better than its predecessor, but I still do not have that same connection to the songs, or the album as a whole.

xsummerxsaddismx (February 7, 2008)

this album isnt as good as is a real boy,

but it is really amazing.

i love max bemis,
:D

Zephir (November 21, 2007)

Hey I just bought this CD today. I'm wondering if this happened to anyone else. I started listening to the first CD and tried to follow along with the lyrics and it made no sense and then I realized that the disc that was labeled disc 1 was actually disc 2. Then I was really scared that I got two copies of disc 2 and then my batteries died so I had to wait until I got home to find out that my disc that was labeled disc 2 was actually disc 1. Anyone else have discs labeled incorrectly?

XCARLUPANDDIEX (November 19, 2007)

5 stars for christ's skate !

bemis's a god

GlassPipeMurder (November 19, 2007)

check that, half the line is Bemis and half is Way. cat's game.

GlassPipeMurder (November 18, 2007)

weird, i thought he just did the little spoken word part right before it, doesn't really sound like him. good catch.

maverick (November 18, 2007)

GPM, just so you know, the following line in the title track:

"So I spew a comet of verbal vomit, sacrilegious, of Christ or Islamic / It’s full of piss and they’ll never stop it / Come on""

Is actually sung by Gerard Way, not Max Bemis.

-Scott

Big_Guy (November 18, 2007)

definitely a step down, but still decent.

I wish he would have just ditched this whole double album idea and made one album of great songs.

bryne (November 18, 2007)

This record is so bad. It's in serious contention with Chase This Light as biggest disappointment of the year.

almosttragichero (November 18, 2007)

Haha the first paragraph is priceless. The album is pretty good, could have been better, but takes some time to sink in.

F_Ward (November 18, 2007)

"The songs are not subpar"

C'mon, there are some real stinkers on this thing. I don't care if each song is needed to tell a "complete" story if the end result is completely inconsistent.

beampointyshoe (November 18, 2007)

"Ha. So it is okay to write subpar songs if they in some way reflect experiences in your life and/or relate to your mental state?"

The songs are not subpar...a good storyteller weaves a story in words or music each element (or song) has its own power...some are stronger woven with the others...regardless of what the story is about...it creates drama....

maverick (November 18, 2007)

The first few spins, I was unimpressed, but then I spent some serious time listening to each disc separately over and over in my car, and after 6 or 7 spins of each, I'm really stoked on this album now. There's so many little nuances buried all over the record that you really have to be alert to notice. Also, while some of the songs aren't as strong as others and could've been cut to make the album just one disc, the lyrics tell a full story from start to finish, so I imagine it would've been weird for Max to chop out part of his narrative for the sake of being musically economical.

-Scott

F_Ward (November 17, 2007)

"epic album...needed to listen to it a few times to absorb all the songs...
each song has a reason for being...its a friggin story about his life...some of the songs are necessary to transition to next scene...some of you assholes are calling that filler....a lot of know it alls about mental illness...daniel johnston did not take his meds....he was manic a shit load of his life...if you take your meds you are ill....meds are taking care of it."

Ha. So it is okay to write subpar songs if they in some way reflect experiences in your life and/or relate to your mental state?

beampointyshoe (November 17, 2007)

epic album...needed to listen to it a few times to absorb all the songs...
each song has a reason for being...its a friggin story about his life...some of the songs are necessary to transition to next scene...some of you assholes are calling that filler....a lot of know it alls about mental illness...daniel johnston did not take his meds....he was manic a shit load of his life...if you take your meds you are ill....meds are taking care of it.

GreenVandal (November 17, 2007)

And lets not forget:

Hilariously stupid album cover. Seriously.

Problematiclogic (November 17, 2007)

Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

fallingupwards84 (November 17, 2007)

i understand what you're saying, but certainly you agree that a lot of the scores on this site are inflated.... you should never have to defend giving an album album "only 7 stars", because that's still a lot

GlassPipeMurder (November 17, 2007)

7/10 should mean its really good, not "full of filler"

"peppered with filler" is a lot different than "full of filler". i think most people expected this to have plenty of good songs, so i felt stressing why it was only a 7 was probably the most efficient way for this double-album.

fallingupwards84 (November 17, 2007)

once again, the review is not very favorable of the album yet gives it a 7/10. it seems like every single review around here now days inflates the score.

7/10 should mean its really good, not "full of filler"

F_Ward (November 17, 2007)

"Haters for the sake of being haters. Pretty sad."

Bullshit. I bought this the day it came out. I love ...Is a Real Boy. This is comprised of way too much filler. Also, where did all of the epic parts go? I mean, the end of the last song kinda has that epic quality, but it just doesn't go all the way. A 6 is generous.

poonk (November 17, 2007)

Not very good – but I'll have to admit he does a pretty decent slint imitation.

joeg (November 16, 2007)

hate this band with an unbridled passion. and i'm also jealous because that's what people are when they hate bands. we're just jealous.

99centHoneyBrownDeuce (November 16, 2007)

if i hear one more person compare this guy to brian wilson (the critics) i'm gonna flip my wig. same thing with the singer from saves the day. being on meds and acting "crazy", or writing depressing songs does not equate any type of genius. first of all, it's ridiculous to make statements like that in the first place. why even bother to compare? second of all, haven't they heard of people like daniel fucking johnston? how about rocky erickson? those dudes actually WERE crazy, and they write songs that are on an entirely different planet than this hack. have you ever read any interviews with this guy? he's about as genuine as a three dollar bill.

and not to mention, the songs are just absolutely terrible.

TheMarc (November 16, 2007)

Nope.

damnitsderek (November 16, 2007)

This album has way, way too much filler. I mean it's not horrible or anything, but it's a huge step down from Is a Real Boy .

kirbypuckett (November 16, 2007)

Boring and not memorable at all.

- Kirby

Mafiachick1313 (November 16, 2007)

The cd is pretty awesome. I love the first cd thesecond was less attractive but i liked it thanks to Mr.Skiba's vocals in "about Falling"

the_problem_with_fire (November 16, 2007)

Also: I agree that this would have been more cohesive/memorable as an EP. Big let down, this album is.

the_problem_with_fire (November 16, 2007)

Good review, although I agree with Decoymusic's review more in that this album severely falls short when compared to the last album. Major let down. I thought ...Is a Real Boy was great, but there is just nothing special about this release to me. Mostly filler with few memorable tracks that near quite reach the creativity and energy of earlier work.

powerhour (November 16, 2007)

I think a lot of you aren't getting that the name "in defence of the genre" means defending what you believe in which is what all of the songs on the album relate to. It has nothing to do with the "scene" that you whiners keep bitching about.

Trainwreck (November 16, 2007)

This album kicks ass, just as it should have.

Haters for the sake of being haters. Pretty sad.

Autosuggestion (November 16, 2007)

There are only four examples of song lyrics, despite there being 27 songs. And it certainly isn't half of the review (technically it's 22.5%). I think that for a band that is pretty well known for its lyrics and songwriting, it makes some sense to try to use some examples to convey the content of the album. Usually there are a few passages or lines in a review of a novel or poetry collection.

branden (November 16, 2007)

im with archangel on this one.

someone-yeah (November 16, 2007)

so what the hell is wrong with the singer?

GlassPipeMurder (November 16, 2007)

I hate reviews where half of it is just quoting lyrics
i can't speak for everyone, but i think it's generally for people interested in the album's substance...especially for bands that rely more on their lyrics.

booker_pee (November 16, 2007)

Most over-rated band of the last five years.

HonestAbe (November 16, 2007)

I don't know why, and I'll admit that I'm probably wrong about this. But I hate reviews where half of it is just quoting lyrics. It always just comes off as real....I don't know. whatever

punkgato (November 16, 2007)

You know this genre is played and needs a neumatic bolt to the head when 5th generation douchebags like Say Anything make an Emo Use Your Illusion...And I thought it couldn't get worse than The Black Parade!

fattony (November 16, 2007)

mark this as one of the more disappointing albums of the year. they could have cut about half of these songs and had a solid single-disc album. but as it stands, there's just too many songs that are totally unremarkable.

Paulrulzdood (November 16, 2007)

im still absorbing this one. like most every double album, this probably would have been stronger as a single disc with maybe 14 or 15 songs making the cut, but hey, at least its ambitions and they're not afraid to just give the fans everything they're doing and to hell with outtakes, so diehard fans should be happy. i'm interested to see where they head next. this seems solid enough based on a few listens, but i haven't fully decided on a rating yet. "is a real boy" is easily a 9/10.

paul

baseball (November 16, 2007)

i've heard 3 songs and they were all so awful that i have zero desire to listen to the rest of this

GlassPipeMurder (November 16, 2007)

whoever wrote this review obviosly doesn't know shit about the genre, just like say anything.

and what genre is that? i think you missed a point somewhere...

GreenVandal (November 16, 2007)

I haven't heard much of this band, but what I have heard has been pretty bad. I also get the impression that he is really obsessed with talking about "the scene" and "the genre" which is pretty much the most boring thing anyone could ever write about.

deepsearch (November 16, 2007)

whoever wrote this review obviosly doesn't know shit about the genre, just like say anything.

Scruffy (November 16, 2007)

Their last album is one of my favorite albums of all time. This one is absolutely terrible. The only song that even touches the honest bitterness and lyrical wit of IS A Real Boy is "Died A Jew". Biggest disappointment of the decade. Try harder next time, guys.

SumWon (November 16, 2007)

Isn't this the band that had the video with a special appearance by The Fonz? Score is for The Fonz and this band, if it's the band I think it is.

JKyle (November 16, 2007)

This album has some good material, but it's spread thin and mixed with a lot of filler. I'm always cautious of double albums for this reason. Too often, they're just an excuse to not cull down the tracklist to something palatable.

Archangel (November 16, 2007)

Sometimes I swear I'm the only one who sees how shitty this guy is.

R3vengeTherapy (November 16, 2007)

I've only had time to listen through the entire album once, and I did that in one sitting (ridiculous, I know) but from what I remember, the first disc was WAY WAY more memorable than the second. And about 70% of the time, I never noticed any of the guest vocalists. Maybe it was because I was working on other things simultaneously while listening, but I had to go back and re-listen to a couple tracks to catch some of the guest vocals. When I have time, I'll give this a solid listen. Because it's definitely good.

bizzlebrizzle (November 16, 2007)

I like Say Anything a lot, and some of these songs were really good but this just isn't clicking with me like the last record or even all those weirdo EPs. Maybe in a year or two, but right now eh.

thus_spoke_sean (November 16, 2007)

I was gonig to write a review for this, this weekend, then I saw this on the main page and said "Oh well"

But then I read the review, now i'll be writing away. The review it self makes some valid points, but overall I took away something completely different from "In Defense.."

brixtongunman (November 16, 2007)

I got through this once. I have no desire to listen to it again. Major fucking disappointment.

TheMike (November 16, 2007)

This album has some great stuff on it, but not all of it works. I really like it, though.

justinius (November 16, 2007)

best thing about this record is the artwork.

that's what happens when you call jeff smith.

score is for bone.

F_Ward (November 16, 2007)

Oh, and fuck Tate for going after the people that didn't like this on AP.net.

F_Ward (November 16, 2007)

Alright, this album was by far the biggest disappointment of the year. The thing does not flow from track to track at all, which is bad thing for a supposedly concept album. The songs jump back and forth between different styles, sometimes within the same song, and it just doesn't work. Some of the songs seem pretty half-realized as well. Also, this time the guest vocals seem to get in the way a lot of the time; I find myself thinking "This part would've been better if Max had just sung it." Take 6 or 7 songs and it could have been made a great EP.

Toxic_Toast (November 16, 2007)

this album sucks

but

the art is amazing

colin (November 16, 2007)

GOSSIP GOSSIP GOSSIP EMO EMO EMO SELF INDUGLENCE AND PROPAGATION

really, do we need this genre that is being defended around anymore? i think not. fuck off. bemis has a head on his shoulders and he should put it to better use than this pop crap. i'm sure scott hesiel loves it.

winiferd69 (November 16, 2007)

Max Bemis is single handedly reinventing "emo"....and I like it.
There, I said it.

I mean I know Say Anything does not sound anything like the great 90's emo bands, I seriously think this band might be the most respectable and inventive out of the bunch they're labeled into.

And I know we all hate the "genre" name--but I really think this is what emo is/should be as far as lyrical content goes...it's not your current run of the mill bullshit like, let's say, The Higher or Cute Is What We Aim For.

P.S.
Sorry for the neurotic comment, guys.

denbez (November 16, 2007)

Ugh. What an awful band.

PizzaClaus (November 16, 2007)

This album is fucking great. I've read that the first song is about John Nolan, so it sounds like he's sort of dick to the ladies.

contrarian (November 16, 2007)

Overweight shut-ins who still suck their thumbs are stoked.

joetheinvincible (November 16, 2007)

Okay I totally disagree, but that is besides the point. Reading this, I would honestly expect you to give this a 4 or lower. You didn't really mention anything good about the album outside of like two songs.

ryanrockwell (November 16, 2007)

I like the first disc alot, I'm gonna listen to it for awhile then get started on the second, but I'm loving the first one so far, not as much as is a real boy, but I didn't expect to, so that's fine.

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