Say Anything: Anarchy, My Dear

Say Anything, Anarchy, My DearSay Anything: Anarchy, My Dear
In 2004, Say Anything released their first widely distributed album, …Is a Real Boy. The album showed a songwriter in Max Bemis that had a strong grasp on pop while not following typical song formulas. For this, the album was praised receiving a 4.5/5 on Allmusic and Punk News. The album, also, showed a songwriter who was in touch with such acidic irony that it occasionally became hard to listen to.
In recent years, the band’s star has faded. The 2007 follow up to …Is a Real Boy, the double disc In Defense of the Genre , was a sprawling mess of guest vocalists and 2009’s self-titled album was aptly called “obnoxiously solipsistic” by the Onion. In 2012, the band returns with their fifth studio album, Anarchy, My Dear. Anarchy, My Dear feels like the closest thing Max Bemis and company have put out to …Is a Real Boy, but the question is “eight years later, does the vitriol of …Is a Real Boy still work?”
The answer is a resounding “not really.” Anarchy, My Dear feels like a rehashing of the same emo scene complaints of 2004 but in a social media overload world, Bemis’ bile comes off sounding like the twitter rant of a high school junior who claims to want to go to college to major in philosophy. Bemis has a definitive view about how the world should work but has no idea how to get there so instead of being pragmatic, he gets snarky and angry.
To illustrate this, look no further than the follow up to …Is a Real Boy’s closing anthem “Admit It,” the genius titled “Admit It Again.” He pontificates “You were listening to my band in 2004 though you claim you were reared on the Stooges,” which is a legitimate complaint because no one can listen to more than one thing over the course of a year. He, the gives a nice one-two punch to Pitchfork with the lines “Don’t wanna hear about how the latest Rihanna single is a post-modern masterpiece
Stop punishing me!” and “Defining your own self-worth by the opinion of a stupid website with Satan as its figurehead.” Take that website that will never ever listen to this album, let alone review it. He goes on saying “I’m sure you’re proud that you’ve usurped the popular kids table.” But has not Bemis usurped the popular kids table? He seeks to be the mouthpiece for some generation that thinks Pitchfork is too full of themselves by being too full of himself. He attempts to drag down those who he accuses of dragging down others. Is that justice or does that make him just as bad as those he accuses?
Ultimately, Anarchy, My Dear rarely has any issue musically; Bemis still can craft pop songs with the best of them. The real problem is the flaws in Bemis’ lyrics that make him seem just as unlikable as the people he is rebelling against. The goal of an album is to win over a listener, instead Bemis’ goal seems to be to see how much the listener can take before giving up.
Rating: 6.5/10
MP3: Say Anything “Admit It Again”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl

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