Say Anything’s new album is all about breaking things down. Having left RCA for Equal Vision Records and slightly altered their band lineup, the guys are back with Anarchy, My Dear, an album that brims with confidence and breaks things down both thematically, with its rebellious undertones, and musically, with its return to a more raw sound that Say Anything first became known for.
“One, two, three, four and five, blood ran cold, but I’m coming alive,” shouts frontman Max Bemis while clapping along to the beat, starting the album off with a burst of energy in “Burn a Miracle.” This first song declares the album’s overall rebellious attitude as Bemis engages in clever wordplay, subtly switching from a call to “burn a miracle” to “burn America” in the chorus.
Continuing the flow of energy, “Say Anything” is a morbidly optimistic declaration of love. “Condemn my race to genocide if it meant that I could lay with you.” What more could a girl ask for than for a guy to pull his nails out, take a wrench to his teeth and spit upon a Bible just for her? It’s a strange fusion of romance and rebellion, but it works.
“Admit It Again” is a nice, nostalgic nod to fans, a sequel to “Admit It!!!” from the band’s beloved …Is a Real Boy album. “Don’t want to hear about how the latest Rihanna single is a post modern masterpiece, stop punishing me,” sings Bemis in this call to a society of posers to break down authority. With lines like “And the crap rains down,” it is by no means a lyrical or musical masterpiece, but it is a real attention grabber.
“So Good” slows things down, featuring a melodic piano breakdown and soft female background vocals crooning “I gotta have you.” It’s simple, incredibly catchy and borderline sappy, uncharacteristic of the band, but continues to break things down like the rest of the album, this time breaking down emotional boundaries and showing a more tender side of Say Anything.
Where there is romance, there is always the possibility of heartbreak, which is where “Sheep” and “Peace Out” take us. Even heartbroken, however, Bemis chooses to stay confident. “It’s my life and I’m living without you; it’s my song, it was never about you at all,” he sings in “Sheep,” which offers a more pop sound than the rest of the album. “Peace Out” contrasts a soft, acoustic melody with raw, sharp, spiteful lyrics. With lines like “I’d rather subsist on venom, let him stay with you” and “I’ll laugh it off when this ends, you can just go get high with all of your dumb friends,” this bitter, empowering tune is sure to become someone’s perfect post-breakup anthem.
“Overbiter” and “Of Steel” bring a little bit more of angst and honesty to the table. “I want it bad, so bad, I want it so bad,” exclaims Bemis earnestly in “Overbiter,” an upbeat pop fantasy that features more charming female vocals that tease him that he’s “the right boy, at the right time.” In the most emotionally raw song of the album, “Of Steel,” he demonstrates more vulnerability, begging for a certain someone to come and save him.
The album’s last two songs bring things full circle, back to the declaration of rebellion that “Burn a Miracle” started us off with. The title track unexpectedly slows it down in an ode to anarchy, but things pick up again in “The Stephen Hawking.” This grand finale lasts for seven minutes and encapsulates the versatile sound of the entire album in one song, featuring a soft acoustic intro, a chorus full of screams and rage and a melodic breakdown. Full of metaphors and biblical allusions, it leaves one with a lot to process, but what better way is there to clear things up than to press play again?