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Say Anything - Hebrews Album Cover

Say Anything - Hebrews

Reviewed by
8.8
Say Anything - Hebrews
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Record Label: Equal Vision
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Over the last fifteen years, we've watched Max Bemis grow from an anxious, medicated young man into a successfully married father of one, becoming a well-respected author amongst the graphic novel community. Overall, things have been going pretty well for Maxim. But if Hebrews - the sixth album under the Say Anything moniker - confirms anything, it's that anxiety and insecurity can still prey on his psyche. But while that may have consumed him years ago, Bemis now has control over it. These newfound powers have resulted in Say Anything's greatest collection of songs since the band's breakthrough album, ...Is A Real Boy.

Honestly, the perfect subtitle for Hebrews could be ...Is A Real Man, as the album's 12 tracks have Bemis tackling all the challenges brought forth by becoming a father, trying to remain relevant as an artist, and the general yearning for the purpose of life. When I spoke with Bemis in Spring 2013, he mentioned that the entire first half of what's now Hebrews would be life pre-Lucy Jean Bemis, with the lyrically content being dark, self-effacing, and even hilarious. While some fans have felt burnt by previous Bemis album proclamations only to be disappointed by the final product, Hebrews lives up to the hype and more.

There are many Say Anything "firsts" on Hebrews, as it's the first album to be produced by Bemis. It's also the first to not feature Coby Linder on drums (Reed Murray assumed that role instead). But the biggest shock of all was Bemis revealing that the release would feature zero guitars, instead replacing traditional riffs with orchestral string arrangements. Before you rage-quit this album, let me reassure you that, despite the lack of guitars, Hebrews is undoubtedly the most chaotic and passionate release in Say Anything's history, proving that you don't need loud guitars to still create a ruckus.

And Hebrews raises quite the ruckus with the opening one-two punch of "John McClane" and "Six Six Six," utilizing Bemis' gift of undeniably catchy pop-punk hooks within curious song structures. The upbeat delivery of the former is strengthened by some delicious harmonizing from Chris Conley and Matt Pryor, while the latter is a twisted journey through Bemis' mind, calmed by Andy Hull's soothing tenor only to culminate with the thunderous yells of Jon Simmons, as Bemis begs to "dethrone God" so he "can be crucified." If the previous Say Anything releases have lost you, these two tracks will be the reason you're drawn back in. And once you're in is when Hebrews becomes truly relentless.

The vitriol behind the aggressive "Judas Decapitation" and scathing "Kall Me Kubrick" is a result of accusations that Bemis had "gone soft" since marrying Sherri DuPree. "Judas" is a reminder of how clever Bemis' words can be, as the second verse calls out the bloggers who think his family life has weakened this musical output - he even takes to task those who wish he never grew up at all (Be 19 with a joint in hand. Never change the band. Never ever be a …real man). Lyrically, Bemis doesn't hold back anything, the trend continuing on songs like "Kubrick," the furious "Boyd," and the Tom DeLonge-aided "Nibble, Nibble" (Hebrews explosive closer).

It's not all fire and brimstone though, as some of the quirks that made us fall in love with Say Anything in the first place appear throughout Hebrews. The title track features a bizarre yet endearing bridge of Bemis embracing his lineage, while the throwback pop romp of "My Greatest Fear is Splendid" incorporates a fantastic singing (not screaming) cameo from Every Time I Die's Keith Buckley as well as the instantly quotable Jesus, dude! You smell like curry!

But it's when Bemis gets introspective that Hebrews truly shines. Whether it's the swelling strings of "Kall It Kubrick" (on which he wonders, Oh my god, I’m going to flip out. Oh my god, am I gonna choke and die before I even meet my daughter?) or the pulsating shimmer of "The Shape of Love to Come" (another splendid love duet between Max and Sherri), Bemis is facing and overcoming past and current inner demons. The purposeful slow build of "Push" pays off with yet another incredible Aaron Weiss verse, while the self-deprecating "Lost My Touch" has Bemis reflecting on his legacy and showing an appreciation for his fans, which is brought home by Jeremy Bolm's powerful yelp of I never say “washed up” as I prefer to say “washed over” because you can drown in love of yesterdays..

Truth be told, this is the most energized Max Bemis has sounded since he recorded those early Say Anything demos in his college dormitory. Leaving the guitars at home for Hebrews seemingly allowed Bemis to attempt anything and everything, freeing his creativity in previously unimaginable ways. The album finishes up with the lyric, Forsake the old to die young, a battle cry that perfectly encapsulates Hebrews' multiple themes. Max Bemis continues to explore and discover the man he's become as well as what lies ahead of him. Hebrews isn't the return to form listeners may have been expecting from Say Anything; instead it's something entirely better.

8.8/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 143
03:30 AM on 06/10/14
#2
OverSlyZed
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Musicianship 3.5
03:37 AM on 06/10/14
#3
likedyingy0ung
The Sap In My Selfish Glass
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Very on point. Lost My Touch inspires chills every single time. Kindof glad I never kept up with the news leading up to this; was blindsided by the lack of guitars in the most pleasant way possible.
03:45 AM on 06/10/14
#4
ILiveInMyCar
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As a guy in his 30's who's happily married with a wife and a daughter around Lucy's age, I find some of these songs actually very relatable (in general theme, not specific lyrics). I agree it is by far the most passionate Say Anything release and I think it's because Max may have found his true passion...his family
04:11 AM on 06/10/14
#5
The Escapist
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Oh yeah. Oh yeaaaaaaaaaah, oh yeah.
I totally agree, and gave it a 85%. I love Nibble Nibble, Lost My Touch and Hebrews.
04:58 AM on 06/10/14
#6
InfiniteArms
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This is the only Say Anything album to date which I find a chore to listen to. I respect the concept, and the guests spots are great, but I only like the lead single "Six Six Six" - And I say "like" very loosely.
05:28 AM on 06/10/14
#7
blackmold
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Great review. I was very pleasently surprised by how much I love this album.
06:33 AM on 06/10/14
#8
angaskin
defending the genre
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im really digging this album. it's clever, chaotic, and unconventional. classic say anything.
06:36 AM on 06/10/14
#9
jorbjorb
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man this is sick
06:48 AM on 06/10/14
Bryan GribbIe
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From what I've heard so far, I can't see my opinions being anywhere near these, but I'm more curious to hear now.
07:09 AM on 06/10/14
drtomoe123
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The album has really grown on me since my first listen. I still think that John McClane is the weakest opener in the discography, but Six Six Six is such a damn good song; it's become one of my favorite SA songs. Aside from that and My Greatest Fear is Splendid (ugh) I'm loving the whole thing. Nibble Nibble, A Look, Kall Me Kubrick, and The Shape of Love to Come are really standing out for me right now and I'm excited to see how songs like Boyd translate live.

I really love Lost My Touch until Bolm's screaming. Christie totally saves that song though. Her voice is absolutely perfect, sounds like a great blend of Sherri's and Stacy's voices.
07:24 AM on 06/10/14
Ryan Gardner
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I guess I need to spend more time with this. I'm a huge huge fan of the s/t - one of the catchiest albums in past 5 years IMO - but this one I'm just not sure I get.
07:54 AM on 06/10/14
SpyKi
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The album has really grown on me since my first listen. I still think that John McClane is the weakest opener in the discography, but Six Six Six is such a damn good song; it's become one of my favorite SA songs. Aside from that and My Greatest Fear is Splendid (ugh) I'm loving the whole thing. Nibble Nibble, A Look, Kall Me Kubrick, and The Shape of Love to Come are really standing out for me right now and I'm excited to see how songs like Boyd translate live.

I really love Lost My Touch until Bolm's screaming. Christie totally saves that song though. Her voice is absolutely perfect, sounds like a great blend of Sherri's and Stacy's voices.
Lol, we completely disagree. I think John McClane is fantastic, probably the best song on the album and the best opener since Defense. Six Six on the other hand is the weakest on here.
08:06 AM on 06/10/14
Ye Olde Gangsta
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Great review! One of my favorite Beringer write-ups in recent memory. I was thinking something like an 8.5-9 myself. Bemis really rediscovered himself with this one. It's got all the unique attributes that make Say Anything awesome and have been missing since the early days. At times I think I may even like the lyrics more than IARB's. They're just as well-written and witty but much less opaque and perhaps even more passionate.
08:08 AM on 06/10/14
End of Disc One
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oh because no guitars? lol

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