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In Defense of the Genre

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Album Review

Max Bemis — the medicated frontman responsible for every melody, riff, and snare hit on Say Anything's debut — has broadened his approach for the band's follow-up release. In Defense of the Genre is a double-disc set spanning every nook and cranny of Bemis' record collection, with a full lineup accompanying his romps through screamo, show tunes, and the usual pop-punk territory. Also along for the ride are a number of collaborators, and anyone who questions Say Anything's ability to stay afloat in light of their frontman's bipolar disorder need only notice the supportive cameos by Gerard Way, Pete Yorn, and Chris Carrabba. But even if Bemis has the support of the music industry, he still refuses to play by its rules, structuring In Defense of the Genre like a schizophrenic mixtape instead of something traditionally cohesive. The songs function like a series of miniature suites, making left-hand turns without warning and mixing genres together with a deft hand. Electronica choruses rub shoulders with punky verses in "No Soul." Broadway-styled orchestrations in "That Is Why" give way to the aggressive "Surgically Removing the Tracking Device." Elsewhere, Bemis finds room to toss everything from doo wop to reggae into the pot, and although the resulting concoction isn't quite as appetizing as ...Is a Real Boy, it's certainly good enough to warrant several helpings. Bemis may be seeking to defend the emo genre, but his album instead illustrates the difference between run-of-the-mill emo — which, indeed, comprises most of the genre's output — and the imaginative, skillful tunes that flourish here. The only major downside is the album's length; at 89 minutes, it often comes across as untrimmed and longwinded, particularly during the second disc.

Customer Reviews

In Defense of Something New

Well, after 3 years of …Is a Real Boy sitting in my CD player, I can finally put in, not one, but two new CD’s by Say Anything. It’s hard to know what to expect from them, especially since it has been so long, and it seems like everyone is expecting so much from this ambitious sextet. Needless to say, the first track was already released as a single, and came as a bit of a shocker for quite a few fans out there. The deep distorted voice in the beginning, and the awkward chord progression seemed out of place for them. However as soon as the verse begins, it is obvious that we haven’t lost the heart and soul of Max Bemis, the amazing lyricist/vocalist behind it all. “No Soul” is a familiar sound, and gives us a bit of hope for the rest of the album. “That Is Why” almost reminds me of a song that you would hear in a 50’s movie while they’re sitting at a diner or an ice cream shop or something. I don’t know why, it just has that catchy melody and guitar riff. The next standout track is “This Is F***ing Ecstasy”. It has a great style to it that would be very easy to get caught in even the least sticky of heads. Obviously, “Shiksa (Girlfriend)” is a fantastic song, but surprisingly, up to the rest of the CD, it doesn’t seem to be as much of a standout as it did from the other singles. Next is “Baby Girl, I’m a Blur” which sounds like Max decided he was going to go Nine Inch Nails for a track. It has a lot of electronic sounds and an infectious melody that doesn’t quit. “Retarded in Love” is one of those slow/chill tracks that you listen to when you’re over crazy about this girl, and she doesn’t even get it. The lyrics are overly sweet, like most of us guys can be, and it’s easy to relate to. Now the song title “Died a Jew” really threw me off when I saw it, but the fact is that the track is really catchy. “An Insult to the Dead” is another acoustic track that has overlapping melodies, and great lyrics. The first disc ends with “Sorry Dudes, My Bad”. This track does an awesome job summing up the first disc, especially because it’s one of the best on the album. There are talking lines, and then other vocals singing back to Max. The next disc starts off with “Spay”, the first lyrics being “I f****d someone with words, broke a promise”. It’s an interesting start to an disc, but makes sense, and is very deep when thought about. The album’s title track “In Defense of the Genre” is a great catchy track that takes on the same type of form as “Admit It!!!”. It talks about music today, and tackles some of the issues with the business in general. “Vexed” is another great chill track that has an interesting lyric that is repeated in the end, “You think you’re Jesus Christ,” and then switches to “You’re not my Jesus Christ”. The next track “About Falling” has a great power-pop synthesizer sound in the beginning, and continues to be a very melodic and catchy track. The next standout track on this disc is “We Killed It”. It has a great song structure, including the way the beautifully sung verses float into the chorus’s yelling. It’s amazing to hear such a contrast sound so great. “Goodbye Young Tutor, You’ve Now Outgrown Me” is a strange song title, but doesn’t disappoint as a song. It’s slow, but still beautifully done. Bemis’s vocals could not get any better, and the acoustic guitar playing is wonderful. The last track of the disc, and overall album, is “Plea”, which is a catchy track that features Kenny Vasoli of the Starting Line. Overall, the album is actually very good. A lot of fans will be shocked, awed, and maybe a little put off, but believe me, it grows on you. By next week, you’ll be like, “this is the new Say Anything, and I’m perfectly fine with that.”

quantity over quality?

I just couldn't find myself falling in love with any of these new songs. I believe the song out of the whole 2 CD set that I really like is "Hangover Song" but, it's sadly only 58 seconds long This cd does have one the best bass riffs I have heard in a long time. You have to hear the intro to "Died a Jew". I don't hate these new songs outright. I just can't enjoy them. I loved the lyrics Max writes for his songs, but the production on this cd is so muddled and convaluted that he is inaudible at times, which is really a bummer. a real boy always made sure that you could hear him, loud and clear and as in your face as ever, the way this album should've been.


Listened to every song just now and even after a preliminary first listen, i'm in heaven say anything is an unparalelled band of today and max bemis is honestly lyrically and musically one of the most gifted artists of this generation. It's only a matter of time before he recieves the recognition he deserves. GO SAY ANYTHING!


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 --...
Full Bio
In Defense of the Genre, Say Anything
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  • $11.99
  • Genres: Alternative, Music, Punk
  • Released: Oct 23, 2007

Customer Ratings