It’s been almost three years since Max Bemis has released any material from his alternative pop punk band Say Anything after endless touring, splitting from major record label RCA and getting married to Eisley vocalist, Sherri DuPree. Now they are backed by highly respected indie label Equal Vision Records and reteaming with producer Tim O’Heir who helped create Say Anything’s masterpiece album …Is a Real Boy.
Bemis is aiming to take back the crown as modern punk’s most creative, sarcastic and craziest singer/ songwriter with Say Anything’s new album Anarchy, My Dear. But does it have the potential to live up to their breakthrough album, or is it just more material to add to the pile?
“Burn a Miracle,” the first single released, sets the tone for the album with bright intricate melodies mixed with a rough edgy pulse as Bemis loudly proclaims, “I need a song meant to rally the devils.”
It sounds like any other Say Anything song with the middle taking an immediate turn into a darker tone as Bemis screams into the microphone, “Burn a miracle, burn America.”
This is followed by the second single, “Say Anything,” which sounds like a less distorted version of their older song “It’s A Metaphor Fool” off their EP …Was A Real Boy. It’s just as catchy but all too familiar.
There are some parts that’ll make listener’s ears prickle like the solo by Bemis on “Night’s Song” that also has a beautiful ending to showcase the subtle talents of drummer Coby Linder.
But the song, featuring Dupree on vocals, seems like it could have easily fit on Say Anything’s second major release In Defense of the Genre.
Then there’s “Admit it, Again,” a sequel to “Admit It” found on Real Boy. The track starts off with the loved lyrics, “When I’m dead I’ll rest,” but this time the rant seems passé.
The music is fast and pulsating to match Bemis’s anger that changes speed at the conclusion of the song as Bemis sings “I’m all that I wanna be” but the song is not as
inspiring compared to Real Boy’s epic grand finale.
“So Good” changes the mood of the album by adding an optimistic beat, showing the more pop and delicate side of Bemis, featuring gracious piano layered with synth and guitar effects. “So Good” is a standout track even though it’s much softer than the rest of the album.
Also the first track features Dupree on guest vocals, gracefully adding delicate melodies in the background and singing in the choruses. “Sheep” has an 80’s low-fi feel with more synth and driven heavily by the bass but has an awkward bridge that hurts the song.
“Overbiter” sounds like a feel -good pop song with a lively piano intro, and the chorus is extremely catchy with a great guitar hook as Bemis and Dupree trade vocals. It’s disappointing that Dupree is the best part of the album but is not part of the band and only featured in two songs.
“Of Steel” continues the calmer feel of the album and isn’t a bad song, but the album begins to feel boring and especially drags by the song’s conclusion.
Don’t judge the title track “Anarchy, My Dear” by its name as it starts off like a slow rock country song that goes off into a stadium rock jam with an awesome guitar solo. Bemis is the sole anarchist at the end of the song while being backed by a chorus.
It would have been fine to end the album there, except Bemis needed a seven-minute closer called “The Stephen Hawking” that has some great parts in the middle but is not a strong conclusion to the album.
Anarchy, My Dear is nowhere near as classic or awe-inspiring as …Is A Real Boy. It will bring back some fans that were greatly disappointed in their last album though not many. The album has some cherished moments but it’s a lot like past releases that began a slow descent into recycling songs without the same passion or creativity.
Simply, there are no songs to call your new favorite and nothing fans will be eager to see live over their older songs. Anarchy, My Dear will frustrate some old fans while others will adore it, as they’ll do anything for Say Anything.
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