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Release Date: Oct 23, 2007
Genres: Punk-Pop, Punk Revival, Emo
Number Of Tracks: 27
Say Anything make a bold move into music with their latest effort, but they pull it off with catchy lyrics and clever instrumental work.
In Defense Of The Genre
UG Team, on october 25, 2007 6 of 9 people found this review helpful
Sound: How can someone define a perfect album? In my opinion, Say Anything's In Defense Of The Genre can be defined as one. For those who are unfamiliar with the band, they released an album called ...Is A Real Boy in 2004. The album was small at first, but over the past three years it has grown in popularity amongst the indie community. The album covered the childhood of front man Max Bemis. Their latest release will definitely do the same amongst not only the indie community but the alternative and rock community as well. In this album, the band covers Max's problems with love, growing up, and life altogether.
This album is as amazingly well done as the band's last release. The music hits hard in every direction of your ear drums. Consisting of two discs, the album is full of different musical genres. A small selection of genres can be seen within tracks like That Is Why, a toe tapping, almost David Bowie sounding song. Another track, No Soul, shows a complete variation of styles, switching between pop-punk and dance-pop rock as the song goes on. The band also has moved away from a pure pop-rock album like ...Is A Real Boy. While some songs may seem more like their last album, a majority of the album is entirely different than their last album. It may not be that band from the last album, but that band definitely has pulled off what they wanted to do with this album genre-wise.
Another unique thing about Say Anything is that in ...Is A Real Boy they had a group of people do backup vocals/yelling during the songs. This album has taken a unique step further into that. The band has enlisted various vocalist to join them and do back up on several tracks. These vocalist include Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance), Chris Conley (Saves The Day), Aaron Gillespie (Underoath/The Almost), Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio), Pete Yorn, Chris Carrabba (Dashboard Confessional), and Fred Mascherino and Adam Lazzara (Taking Back Sunday). The album has an all star guest cast amongst current bands of the music scene that Say Anything is apart of. They definitely affect the album in every way they can, most of the time doing solo vocal spots. One instance in which guest vocals can be seen in the title track In Defense Of The Genre. The song features Gerard Way of MCR fame. His guest vocal spot is noticeable and hysterical in this track that criticizes his band's own album The Black Parade. The guest vocals definitely make this album a worthy buy to add to your collection of CDs.
The music itself of this album can simply be described as amazing. Every little detail is well thought out and pulled off the way it needs to be pulled off. The vocals of Max Bemis are almost indescribable. His voice is something you have to get used to, but once you appreciate it, you love it. The instrument work of the album is amazingly well done. The band has everything a normal band needs, guitars, bass, drums, and keyboard. The band also employs piano, violin, cello, turn tables, and other unique instrument choices. The music is flawless in every way you could analyze it.
The album consists of 27 songs. While favorites are hard to pick, I can pick out a few highlights. The opening track, Skinny Mean Man, starts with a deep voice speaking a spoken word introduction, and then Max picks up with the band joining in as well. The tracks is well developed and heavy hitting. It grabs the attention of the listener, as most opening tracks should. The Church Channel is a song about being confused and falling in love. It starts slow with only keys and drums, but the tempo changes multiple times. It picks up into a faster sounding tempo with the guitar and bass joining in. Eventually the song builds up to a vocal solo from Paramore's Haley Williams. The vocals of here send chills down your spine as the track works it's way to a gradual close. The title track (as mentioned early) is one of the best tracks on the album. It is well thought out for a track that criticizes the thoughts of people who base a scene on one band. Gerard Way's guest vocals only make the track better than it already is. The final track of the album, Plea, can only be described as a ballad. It starts out with only Max and a single guitar. It slowly builds up with guitar, drums, and bass. The track then takes a different turn by only having violin and drums, and then goes back to the single guitar from the beginning. The song then suddenly picks volume up into a more rock sounding song. The ending of the song truly finishes the album a way an album should finish. Max Bemis does duet vocals with Haley Williams. The duet is indescribable due to how well their voices sync up. It drives the album to an ending that concludes this magnificent piece of art. The remaining 20 seconds of holding guitar chords give you a chance to reflect on the album and let it sink into your head. // 10
Lyrics: If you are unfamiliar with Say Anything's lyrics, then you should get to know them. Their lyrics are brilliant and clever. Their lyrics use a vocabulary you don't normally see in a song. The lyrics are also humorous in a few of the songs. An example of this can be found in You're The Wanker If Anyone Is: With you out of my life skies are blue and love is real and true./You fugly brat! You pussy cat!/Who ever thought shit could shine like that?/So glad you stabbed my back./(The blade when I turned my back). Another example of the simple, yet well written lyrics in The Church Channel: I fell behind on my nightly four-course meal of rainbow pills/and now I'm wondering what is fake and what is real/but who's that ghost who keeps walking by my door/I've never seen a girl look so good in thick-rimmed glasses before/and I feel her watching me during sleeping hours/and when I shower. The lyrics are as clever as they are honest. The lyrics are one of those reasons Say Anything is so popular. // 10
Overall Impression: When I first listened to this album, I thought it was a different step for a band that I loved. By the end of the record, the album clicked, and it all made sense to me. After my first listen, the album was my instant album of the year. I recommend this album to Say Anything fans and haters alike. I also recommend it to indie, alternative, rock, and pop-punk enthusiasts. This is only the beginning of what this band is doing. People need to like them before they are the next big act. While this album is a bold move for any band, Say Anything can pull it off, and they will probably be the only band to do this ever. // 10
In Defense Of The Genre
[scarlet], on january 16, 2008 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Not one to settle for success, bipolar frontman Max Bemis has set the bar for for the band's follow-up release to the critically acclaimed ...Is A Real Boy at an intimidating height. In Defense Of The Genre is a double-disc concept album, and while it may not be as accessible as previous endeavours, it showcases a depth and creativity that deserves a few listens to fully appreciate. Firstly, sound-wise Say Anything should be commended for providing such a huge variety of music. The double-disc explores a multitude of styles and genres ranging from punk rock to show songs, screamo and ballads, generally executed skilfully by the band and supported by a cache of collaborators. Bemis has pulled out all the stops this time with everything from turntables to strings, and while there are a few occasions when his creativity seems somewhat stretched, this has generally more to do with the tracklisting than the quality of the songs. At first listen the album appears to be fairly random in structure, often taking abrupt turns in both subject matter and musical style. It is not until playing through the album a couple of times that these moves become familiar and the story becomes clear(er). The story itself, though perhaps not as direct and specific as Is A Real Boy, is an honest account of the beauty, dissonance, discovery and confusion of falling in (Disc 1) and out (Disc 2) of love. This theme carries across almost all of the songs on In Defense Of The Genre in some way, and marks relatively uncharted territory for Bemis. Still, the sheer length of the album comes with a steep listening curve, and for this reason is far less accessible than ...Is A Real Boy. It took me around two full listens to understand the album and fully appreciate it, so I would find it difficult to recommend to someone who was less interested in the band. // 9
Lyrics: Bemis has definitely outdone himself on the vocals in this offering. His vocal range is far greater than heard on ...Is A Real Boy, which would not have survived a double CD's worth of tracks. Highlights would have to include Goodbye Young Tutor, You've Now Outgrown Me, an acoustic ballad where Bemis' vocals waver softly as he confesses his emptiness and longing. The opening track Skinny, Mean Man is also particularly impressive, featuring the tag-team lyrical style seen in Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat spewn at a furious pace, and touching on what can only be referred to as the vocal equivalent of a guitar solo. The weakest tracks on the album are probably Died A Jew and Sorry Dudes, My Bad, which despite being lyrically clever (choice lyrics on DAJ include, You say you hate the shade of my face for my father's sharecrops, but my people were slaves before yours invented hip-hop) and close to Bemis' heart, are such corny songs that they betray the lyrical and musical maturity the band has otherwise displayed. As readers are no doubt aware, the album features a number of collaborations (23 in total) with artists of the music scene Bemis identifies himself with. Of note are Haylie Williams' (Paramore) ethereal verse on The Church Channel, as well as Pete Yorn's echoes in Skinny Mean Man and Gerard Way's (MCR) theatrical interlude in the title track. While these cameos are generally well-handled by the group, it should be noted that these appearances are far from duets as listeners may expect. Some are somewhat wasted or barely audible in a chorus of backing vocalists (You're The Wanker, If Anyone Is), and don't really warrant a purchase from the fans of said bands. // 8
Overall Impression: It must be noted that this album requires time and effort to truly appreciate; part of the reason I took a significant time to post this review was to fully grasp the subtleties of this piece (that and the daunting task of evaluating 2 discs in 800 words). The album comes to 27 tracks in full (logging in at approx. 89 minutes), so its unlikely to turn too many heads on a mainstream level. Herein lies the irony of In Defense Of The Genre, hile the huge length and refusal to play a set style will be commended as the band's greatest strength by fans, it is also what limits the bands accessibility to fans alone (and hence isolates rather than defends the genre). till, while it can be argued that In Defense Of The Genre would benefit from careful editing and a concise selection of standout tracks, Bemis has accomplished something epic that could not have possibly been done with a single disc and, love it or hate it, that's what the album comes down to. // 9