Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

Say Anything: ‘In Defense of the Genre’

Say Anything
In Defense of the Genre

Rating: 2/5
For fans of: Saves the Day and every other band who has guest spots on the album
Tracks to download: “The Church Channel,” “Shiksa (Girlfriend),” “About Falling”

Released in August 2004, Say Anything released “.Is a Real Boy,” their first LP ever to receive wide distribution. While recording the album, singer-songwriter Max Bemis suffered a nervous breakdown, later attributed to stress. Upon committing himself to a mental institution, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but returned in good shape to finish recording the album.

After the initial release, they signed to J Records, part of BMG Entertainment, who re-released the album in February 2006. At this point their popularity began to soar, scoring radio play, spots on MTV and a co-headlining tour with Saves the Day.

Released three years after “.Is a Real Boy,” and featuring help from artists such as Chris Carrabba (of Dashboard Confessional), Matt Skiba (of Alkaline Trio), Chris Conley (of Saves the Day) and Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance), the much anticipated 27-track double-disc “In Defense of the Genre” has generated as much hype as there are guest spots on the album. The problem is that all of these guest spots do not add up to something cohesive or even interesting.

When listening to the album, unless paying close attention to each song listening in for the specific guest vocalist, one will likely miss their parts as they are so small and unnecessary that their inclusion comes off as a gimmick. Even with all of these guest spots, this is undoubtedly a Say Anything record. The only problem is that Say Anything has nothing to say.

“.Is a Real Boy” was carried by Bemis’ off the wall lyrics and vocal intensity. Songs like “Every Man Has a Molly,” “The Futile” and “Woe” provided wacked out spins on already familiar motifs such as a love of rough sex and thoughts of suicide. While this ingenuity was likely a product of the mental issues with which Bemis was struggling, the result was lyrical prowess that has not been matched by many, including himself on his latest effort.

While songs such as “The Church Channel,” “Shiksa (Girlfriend)” and “About Falling” are examples of decent tracks on “In Defense of the Genre,” they do not build to the same incredible climaxes that songs like “Admit It!!!” and “Alive with the Glory of Love” achieve.

The album just never pieces together in a way that can reach levels achieved by “.Is a Real Boy” which I believe is altogether unsurprising. Putting aside the issue that Bemis might just not be at his best without being mentally unstable, I think it may be an unavoidable truth that putting together a 27 track double disc featuring 23 different guest appearances that works as a cohesive unit is an impossible task.

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