In Defense of the Genre Say Anything's 2004 breakout album, ...Is a Real Boy — a sprawling rock opera penned by frontman Max Bemis, later diagnosed as bipolar — firmly… In Defense of the Genre Say Anything's 2004 breakout album, ...Is a Real Boy — a sprawling rock opera penned by frontman Max Bemis, later diagnosed as bipolar — firmly… 2007-10-23 Say Anything Rock
Music Review

In Defense of the Genre (2007)

KINGS OF PAIN The musical curiosity of Max Bemis (seated) and Say Anything yields a tenacious Defense
KINGS OF PAIN The musical curiosity of Max Bemis (seated) and Say Anything yields a tenacious Defense
EW's GRADE
A

Details Release Date: Oct 23, 2007; Lead Performance: Say Anything; Genre: Rock

Say Anything's 2004 breakout album, ...Is a Real Boy — a sprawling rock opera penned by frontman Max Bemis, later diagnosed as bipolar — firmly established the six-piece as an indie band that thinks big. So it's no surprise that the Defense they mount on this two-disc, major-label follow-up, which expands on its predecessor's themes, is a very compelling one. With twice the anguished howls, twice the soul-baring lyrics, and twice the screeching guitars, In Defense of the Genre is easily one of the most ambitious artistic statements the emo scene's decade-plus development has offered.

Yet even as they embrace their chosen genre, Bemis & Co. expand and redefine it. Tracks that begin with familiar three-chord strums suddenly blossom into lilting reggae rhythms (''This Is F---ing Ecstasy''), blissful doo-wop choirs (''Retarded in Love''), or bleeping electronics (''The Church Channel''). Indeed, the album's eclectic whirl of styles makes recent heralded emo experiments — like Fall Out Boy's collaboration with Kenny ''Babyface'' Edmonds and My Chemical Romance's flirtation with music-hall camp — seem positively conservative by comparison.

Unexpected as they are, Defense's sonic twists almost always work, justifying the album's 89-minute run time. Label it emo or whatever you like, but this is gloriously conflicted pop for the musically omnivorous. A-
DOWNLOAD THIS: Hear a preview of ''The Church Channel'' at barnesandnoble.com

Originally posted Oct 19, 2007 Published in issue #961 Oct 26, 2007 Order article reprints
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