Wednesday, November 11
...I Mean, It's Better Than That Say Anything Double Album, Which Was, Honestly, Really Shitty
Artist: Say Anything
Album: Say Anything
Comments: A while back I had this pipe dream idea for an audio project. I wanted to follow around some of the homeless people in Suburban Station and record them as they spoke.
I'm not talking about your average down-on-his / her-luck homeless person, either. I mean the ones who are obviously suffering from mental disorders of some kind, the ones that spoke to themselves in hushed and hurried tones, as if they were discussing the secrets of the universe with some unknown, invisible deity.
Now, I will never follow up on this idea. I know that it is exploitative and inconsiderate. I realize the using someone's disability for my own perverse interest is as callous and sinful an act as I could commit. And I really don't want to get stabbed. Still, there is a part of me that will always be fascinated by people with no filter for their thoughts and emotions. I find that kind of rambling freedom intensely fascinating.
Which might explain why I even bothered to pick up Say Anything's self titled new album.
Say Anything lead singer and primary songwriter Max Bemis is about as close to my dream of listening to vagrants as I am going to get. Bemis is well documented for his social anxiety problems, struggles with medication and his often unhinged vocal delivery, which are so rambling and ripe with palpable emotion that boarder on madness. And while these traits are compelling in and of themselves, Say Anything have also turned out some really catchy emo-punk tunes in the past, especially on their proper debut ...Is A Real Boy.
However, taking voyeuristic pleasure in another man's unbalanced life isn't enough to save Say Anything. Bemis and Co abandon their pop-punk leanings on this album, instead relying on their pop instincts to produce an album of occasionally interesting but ultimately empty radio-ready jams.
Now, I know what you are thinking, and fuck you for thinking it. There is nothing wrong with radio-ready rock music, especially if its made well and is more well written than most, which cuts like “Do Better” certainly are. However, too much of this album just sounds like stale versions of songs they've already done better on previous albums or self indulgent bullshit aimed at “enlightening” adolescents.
On the bright side, Bemis does make with the crazy on a coupe of tracks (“Eloise” and “Mara and Me” are particularly ridiculous and awesome), and this record is way better than that double album monstrosity of In Defense of The Genre. But, really, its just one kinda sucky record instead of two kinda sucky records.
I don't know. Maybe I'm just no fun. Maybe I'm just getting too old for this shit. I found Say Anything a lot more fun when they wrote punk songs. These new pop tracks aren't really bad. They are just kind of bland and nondescript, and no amount of unhinged insanity can really fix that.
Key Tacks: Fed to Death, Do Better, Eloise, Mara and Me
Buy, Steal, Skip: Steal it if you must.