Album Review
Say Anything - Anarchy, My Dear Album Cover

Say Anything - Anarchy, My Dear

Reviewed by
Say AnythingAnarchy, My Dear
Release Date: March 13, 2012
Record Label: Equal Vision
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
You can always go back home, but nothing is exactly the same. Say Anything’s fifth studio album Anarchy, My Dear is the band’s first release on an indie since leader Max Bemis released the scene classic …Is A Real Boy in 2004. After achieving mild success with the two albums in between on RCA/Sony, Bemis and company find themselves back in the familiar company of a major indie label, this time being Equal Vision. They also enlisted the production services of Tim O’Heir, whom oversaw the IARB sessions, thus including a comfort level that may not have been present during 2009 self-titled release.

But just like when you return home after all those years at college, things are different. People change, environments shift, and you grow and mature as a person. This can be directly applied to Bemis, whom, since Is A Real Boy, has matured not only as a songwriter but as a person. He’s happily married to Sherri DuPree, drugs are out of his system, and his outlook on life has changed. Basically, everything doesn’t suck as much as it did when he was writing that life-changing album. After a while all the self-loathing can be quite the drag, and Bemis is more aware of this than ever.

Now that’s not to imply that the guy has mellowed out. The title of his band’s latest album displays an attitude anything but. IARB may have started with a song of rebellion, but Anarchy manifests that very spirit throughout. Not in that “stick it to the man!” vibe, but rather it contains eleven tracks that urge the listener to live their lives the way they want – forget the haters, forget the cynics and do what makes you happy. This attitude emerges immediately with opening track (and lead single) “Burn A Miracle,” a peppy, hand-clap laden anthem that features Bemis at his giddy best, frantically trying to keep pace with the dual guitar action throughout.

With its interesting guitar riffs and straight-ahead drumbeat, “Night’s Song” is another quirky rock song, while the luscious “So Good” is the kind of layered pop song that Bemis has gotten so good at perfecting (both tracks feature the two of three vocal cameos from Sherri DuPree-Bemis).

Bemis also continues to show off his unique way with words, as he takes on genocide, bullets to the kneecap, and more to prove his loyalty in the infectious self-titled rocker “Say Anything.” But what has been the chatter amongst message boards is “Admit It Again!” the sequel to everyone’s favorite song from …Is Real Boy, “Admit It!!!” Full of driving fury, Bemis once again rants against those who think they are above everyone else, though this time he focuses on the people who turned on his band after Say Anything didn’t produce …Is A Real Boy Part 2. Chances are if you hate this song, you’re most likely the subject matter.

Continuing the album’s theme is the bouncy synth-heavy “Sheep,” as Bemis emphatically states, “it’s my life and I’ll live it without you/it’s my song and it was never about you at all.” The folky, serene pace of “Peace Out” features Bemis ignoring the negativity that has been thrown his way (“Oh I'll be fine/Sever this for all time/I'll laugh it off when this ends”). Following that is a new sense of confidence on the vibrant “Overbiter,” as husband and wife exchange vocals over its incredibly dancy beat.

What’s admirable about Bemis and his band is that he is willing to try anything musically and you rarely hear any rehashed compositions. The title track is a sprawling six-minute love song to anarchy, while “The Stephen Hawking” is an ambitious seven and a half minute opus that will take you from the darkness into the light. Really, Bemis packs in four different transitions that vary from moody ambience to a pop-punk sneer. Say Anything always does it big on album closers, and this one is no exception.

It seems that some listeners have confused Say Anything’s message with Anarchy, My Dear, perhaps expecting some raging punk-heavy record in the same exact vein of …Is A Real Boy or even In Defense of the Genre. Rather, Anarchy, My Dear is a record that promises that anything could happen at anytime, and Bemis and company do their very best to shake up what has been expected from them as a band. This is a record for the freethinkers, those who rebel from what you’re supposed to do to be accepted as “in” or “hip,” – it’s about the rebellion within.

Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 155
01:47 AM on 03/15/12
Drew Beringer
Senior Editor - @drewberinger - Locked Groove
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this is a very polarizing record but it's gonna end up as one of my favorites of the year. Grew on me so much between the leak and now.
01:51 AM on 03/15/12
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anamericangod's Avatar
Excellent review. The album has grown on me a lot lately. Love the tracks with Sherri.

My biggest issue is that I think the flow of the album could have been better. It doesn't ruin the album by any means, but there are a few abrupt transitions on the record.

And yes, the real version sounds infinitely better than the leak.
01:58 AM on 03/15/12
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Mistle's Avatar
Good, fair review. I agree with most all of it. "The Stephen Hawking" is one of the best songs in SA history- just thought I'd put that out there.

And yes, the real version sounds infinitely better than the leak.
Oh, so it does? Great news. Can't wait until tomorrow (Australian release).
02:04 AM on 03/15/12
Why do you stay till you see blood?
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NateFoundGlory's Avatar
Managed to hold off on listening to the leak until now. Gonna give it a go, I have a decent amount of faith it'll be just as good as you've said.
02:27 AM on 03/15/12
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I'm sincerely glad he got his life together. However happy songs are not Say Anything's forte. Also the whole anarchy thing is a little convoluted. I'll take shit for this but IDOTG, as bloated as it is, is better than this one.
02:47 AM on 03/15/12
This Charming Man
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SpyKi's Avatar
I'm sincerely glad he got his life together. However happy songs are not Say Anything's forte. Also the whole anarchy thing is a little convoluted. I'll take shit for this but IDOTG, as bloated as it is, is better than this one.
You'll take shit for it? I think the general consensus is that IDOTG is better than this one.
02:56 AM on 03/15/12
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jordalsh's Avatar
Glad to hear something positive about the record. Still have to get this.
02:58 AM on 03/15/12
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ILiveInMyCar's Avatar
Couldn't agree more with the review. Granted, it's not a perfect album, but I just get such a "I'm in a great place in life and don't care about anything else" vibe. I find that refreshing. I don't quite get all the hate, because musically I don't find it all that different from their other releases.
03:12 AM on 03/15/12
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vivatoto56's Avatar
Fantastically written review.
03:42 AM on 03/15/12
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LGFUAD21's Avatar
I bought this on Monday when it was released in the uk after hearing previews. Say Anything have been one of my favourite bands since IARB. That record, just like IDOTG were both of that rare type which just clicks with you immediately. I enjoyed their last one too but felt at times it veered just too much into the middle of the road.

I loved the previews I heard of this album so bought it with high expectations.

After a few listens im still not sure what to think of it. Tracks like Say Anything are pretty standard for the band and rival the rest of their material, while the likes of Overbiter is a nice change up showing the diversity of the band.

My one qualm so far with this album is that for the most part it sticks to the same slow tempo and mellow tone. Its nice to listen to but I've struggled to sit through the whole thing.

I can see this album being either something that I have to nurse more to love or something that will diminish with each listen. In other-words it'll either end up one of my top albums this year or one of the biggest disappointments for me
03:44 AM on 03/15/12
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LGFUAD21's Avatar
I'm sincerely glad he got his life together. However happy songs are not Say Anything's forte. Also the whole anarchy thing is a little convoluted. I'll take shit for this but IDOTG, as bloated as it is, is better than this one.
Have to kinda agree. Its a screwed up thing to say but it was the sheer anger and self-deprecating that drew me into this band and made me love them so much.

But as a mediocre part time songwriter myself I know how your life always seeps into your songwriting
04:04 AM on 03/15/12
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scott!athedisco's Avatar
I have a hard time sitting through this one as well. Enjoy the record up through Admit it Again, but then the slower songs feel like they just drag on and on. By the time Stephen Hawking comes on (which apparently everyone loves), I'm only half paying attention, instead thinking about the new Menzinger's album I want to put on :/

Self-titled was my favorite release of '09, so I loved Max's cheesy, happier side. On this one though, his lyrics seemed kind of forced, particularly on Burn a Miracle. And although I like 'Say Anything', as he is talking about 'condemning his race to genocide', I can't help but think of this scene in Flight of the Conchords: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTBP1cBZ6Gs

Never listened to the leak, so hoping this grows on me like everyone is saying.
04:19 AM on 03/15/12
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JinxRemoving's Avatar
Nice review. And I agree; it's grown on me a lot since it first leaked.
04:30 AM on 03/15/12
Space Rock. shit exists.
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Good album, but for Say Anything I was expecting a much more cohesive album. I may even prefer the S/T over this.

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