Say Anything - Anarchy, My Dear Review

The premise of the album is one of somewhat polar opposites; a return to their roots and a move onto pastures new simultaneously.

rating: 3.5

Say Anything the entity is 12 years old now, and whilst this age isn€™t notorious for its maturity, with Anarchy, My Dear, the band€™s fifth album, we find them awash with a maturity that belies their hitting puberty, so to speak. The premise of the album is one of somewhat polar opposites; a return to their roots and a move onto pastures new simultaneously. Though given the band€™s deft hand at making cocktails out of a multitude of genres and serving them up with stop-start changes, if anyone could move forward and backwards at the same time, it would be Say Anything. Handclaps, a one to five count, €˜blood ran cold but I€™m coming alive€™ in comes the band, in comes Bemis. Stabbing rhythms and lyrics poured out with a typical unhinged passion. The album greets us with classic Say Anything in the form of Burn A Miracle, as it occasionally breaks into €˜burn America.€™ The trend follows through with the self-titled second track and Night€™s Song, mixing up some classic elements of Say Anything and bringing in some newer mature elements. Delivered in that distinct Say Anything sound, brilliant melodies, big choruses and some tongue firmly in cheek lyrics; €˜Condemn my race to genocide, if it meant that I could lay with you€™ and €˜Stumble onto the pavement; they€™re strapped tight to bed, they€™ve got a fetish for sheep, but I€™ve got Randy Newman in my head€™ from both the opening lyrics from both tracks respectively. Then we have Admit It Again. A sequel? A return to form? Shameless nostalgia? Clinging on to successes of old? Kind of a mix of them all. There is a certain uncomfortable feeling when a band appear to know a good trick in their repertoire and just try and repeat, and this track leaves you with it. Now the original was a venomous, vitriolic and scathing critique of basically everyone, mostly hipsters, before it was cool to hate hipsters, but also directed at himself self deprecatingly. It€™s a brilliant song, especially the lyrics. Admit It Again though, feels kind of like a grumpy old man hating on the kids without any self awareness, and it€™s tame, the self censorship is audible and there€™s none of the originals crass charm. So Good though is, well, so good. Sweet and melodious, it feels genuine and in its simplicity captures young love and young attraction perfectly. Subdued, fuzzy contentment like a cuddle. By contrast Sheep follows this up with the exact end of that young love as it describes the want and need of that love very much in the past tense, capped off with the rousing chorus of €˜it€™s my life and I€™ll live it without you.€™ Peace Out starts off what is the very much more subdued latter half of the album with it€™s almost medieval folk emo. As the rest takes the elements of Say Anything and goes further along the lines of the newer mature sound, coming across like emo-inflected radio pop rock. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, thanks to the band€™s gift for melody and song craft you can sit, listen and enjoy, but it won€™t grab you like the first half will, and definitely not like the Say Anything of old. The album€™s title track though displays how Say Anything should sound now, the real development of the band from old to new and how more of the album should feel and sound. It€™s grown up musically and emotionally, and it€™s grown old gracefully, not trying to hold on to past glories and not out of touch. It€™s brilliant, and it€™s simple chorus is one of the best on display here. The same can be said of The Stephen Hawking too, though this time sporting an aggressive and mutating despair. Rising and falling and changing pace, this is how more of the album should sound. There are tracks on here that show Say Anything still have it in them to write classics, but unfortunately they€™re located at the opposite ends of the album. Though given the premise of polar opposites and heading in two different directions, it€™s kind of fitting. It€™s just a shame there€™s a loss of way between those ends, an early mid-life crisis for the 12 year old. It€™s enjoyable even in its weaker moments, and when it€™s good it€™s brilliant. Which just goes to show this album could€™ve been amazing, but it€™s not, it€™s just good. Say Anything's new album Anarchy, My Dear is available from March 12th, 2012.
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Life's last protagonist. Wannabe writer. Mediocre Musician. Over-Thinker. Medicine Cabinet. @morganrabbits