John Cusack Approves

It's Say Anything. Irreverent and crass, outwardly egomaniacal yet inwardly humble. They are one of the most polarizing bands I can think of, worshiped for their honesty and diversity, abhorred for their bombast and sugar-coated bitter-pill singles. I love them for all those reasons, though I feel bad about posting about a band I know Alex hates a few days after writing about his own band.

One only has to listen to "Admit It!" from ...Is a Real Boy to realize this band is pulling no punches with anyone, let alone themselves. That record is one of my 10 desert island albums (Radiohead/OK Computer, Jellyfish/Spilt Milk, Aloha/Sugar, Elliott Smith/Figure 8, Iron & Wine/Our Endless Numbered Days, Sufjan Stevens/Illinois, Jonatha Brooke & The Story/Plumb, Toy Matinee/selftitled, Lovedrug/Pretend You're Alive are the others, if you were curious).

The much-anticipated follow-up comes out today. A major-label debut (...Is a Real Boy was just a re-issue, it's almost 3 years old) might be an eggshell-tiptoeing affair for some bands, but Say Anything is putting out a double-disc concept album loosely based on singer Max Bemis' own history of love, touching on all the societal satire we've come to expect from him as well. In Defense of the Genre is most distinctly not one genre, but a multitude of them, sometimes within the same song. Somehow it works, as it did on the last album, pushing the envelope of what "good music should sound like." And despite the lower concentration of earth-shaking hooks, they are evenly distributed over the span of 26 songs dripping with theme, story, and emotion. I'd probably give it a B+ due to its cohesiveness and ambition. There are only a handful of songs that deserve mention alongside any track from ...Is a Real Boy on their own, but as a whole, this album is still quite impressive.

Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-.

"Like Judas the traitor, we are both favored and deeply flawed."

This is F*cking Ecstasy
Shiksa (Girlfriend)
[from In Defense of the Genre|buy]
Admit It!!!
[from ...Is a Real Boy|buy]


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