Said to be the band’s first attempt at a “punk record”, Anarchy, My Dear has also become an exhibit for fans to showcase their displeasure in Say Anything not returning to their roots or releasing a violently addictive tune like “Spidersong”. But when it comes to songwriting, you can’t always get what you want; you get what you feel. Even dating back to 2001, the California brigade have strangled written works with edgy, lively bursts of music and between the lines of firefighters falling in love and self examination and the impulsive sonnets on society, the album is modeled with bits of the band’s discography. First impression, Anarchy is Say Anything’s most difficult album to lay in bed with. The keys-heavy “Of Steel” is an emotional outcry that’s timidly gracious with the subject of a helpless mess falling into caring arms, but like the jovial self-titled track, it echoes a feeling of being too open and delicate. And when it’s not exploring fragility, it gets unusual, with monologues trying to catch up with frontman Max Bemis’ lyrical tyranny (“Peace Out”). Ignore these factors that have forced fans to unjustly place Say Anything in a small boat marked with the words “death”, and you’ll see there’s beauty in this record. In fact, there’s a lot of beauty.
Through In Defense Of The Genre and Say Anything, the six-piece have structured a format in which they switch tempos with a fixating thrust (see “We Killed It”, “Mara And Me”) and that brings a potent curve to Anarchy, My Dear, mixing effective guitar work to bring life to songs like “Sheep”. When it’s paired with restless vocals and Jake and Jeff Turner’s effortless ability to compliment every crash Coby Linder makes his kit commit to, works like “Burn A Miracle” and “The Stephen Hawking” wind up being stunning opening and closing cuts that question why hit makers lack the natural talent to do the same. The latter track specifically, is a seven-minute opus of alternative rock that’s incomparable. Beneath the screams, the calm post rock excursions and fish-hooking choruses, Bemis does get emotional. He does open up and let everything go, clawing at love and nothing else, and when he does, the heart behind this record exposes itself, and even if it is for a mere collective eight minutes on “So Good” and “Overbiter”, it leaves you in awe. Anarchy, My Dear may not be the record listeners wanted, let alone those who have hung onto the band’s emotional levels for years, but it’s the record Say Anything wanted. Push aside expectations and the album unravels at your feet, becoming one of the most engaging pieces of mortality music’s ever seen.
Download: “Overbiter”, “The Stephen Hawking”, “Night’s Song”
[Find updates on album reviews, music news and videos on Twitter]