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Say Anything

Say Anything

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Album Review

Clocking in at 46 minutes — nearly half the running time of 2007's In Defense of the Genre — Say Anything's fourth album is both trim and tuneful, with Max Bemis devoting more focus than ever to the tightening of his quirky, unchained pop songs. "Focus" is a relative term, of course; the frontman still finds time to run wild throughout this disc, rearranging conventional song structures like Picasso and sampling from multiple genres — emo, rock, punk-pop, R&B, even doo wop — with greedy glee. The choruses boast stronger hooks this time around, though, which lends heft to Say Anything's musical mish-mash, and the band's willingness to break rules is what makes this album so refreshing. Arriving at the tail-end of 2009, a year in which most emo-pop was compressed, polished, and wholly indebted to Top 40 radio, Say Anything is as unpredictable as they come, boasting 13 tracks that sound dangerous and delicious at the same time. "There are babies with guns beheading their friends in shopping malls around the world, yet somehow the Kings of Leon still have time to write songs about girls," Bemis sing at the beginning of "Mara and Me," adding "I don't suck much less" in a guttural scream. It's this combination of self-loathing and pop culture critique that fuels most of the album, and Bemis distances himself from his contemporaries by briefly embracing their tricks — the palm-muted guitar chords, the "whoa oh oh" background vocals, the dramatic delivery — before turning them on their heads, whether that means adding pizzicato strings to "Do Better" or circus-styled keyboard to the aforementioned "Mara and Me." This is an impulsive album, an odd piece of work that manages to be puzzling without alienating the listener.

Biography

Formed: Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Say Anything are the pop-punk brainchild of Max Bemis, who founded the band while its initial members were still attending high school in Los Angeles. Although the lineup has since featured a rotating cast of characters, Bemis remains at the band's core, spinning tales of insecurity and frustration with help from longtime drummer Coby Linder. Say Anything made their studio debut with two self-released and self-produced EPs — Junior Varsity! and Menorah/Majora, the latter being released online...
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Say Anything, Say Anything
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