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By: Connor Dirksen
The Saint Reporter
When it comes to saying what he thinks, Say Anything’s frontman Max Bemis won’t pull his punches — especially directed at himself.
“I want to be like Bey,” Bemis writes in a Press Release, referring to pop queen Beyonce Knowles-Carter. “Not‐really‐kidding aside, I’ve become a bit weary of doing the same song and dance leading up to the actual endgame, people actually listening to something.”
And like Bey, the band surprise-released their latest album. I Don’t Think It Is made its way to YouTube in full for streaming on Wednesday, February 3 and became available for official download on Friday the 5.
Unlike Bey, I Don’t Think It Is couldn’t be much further from pop. It’s no easy listen; Bemis brought in a diverse range of musicians to work with him on the album, including his brother-in-law Darren King, drummer for the alternative rock band Mutemath. Most notably, rapper Kanye West met with Bemis to discuss the record, who Bemis says in an interview with Noisey, “was super nice, super humble, really cool about our band and got it.”
The result is dissonant, but not unpleasantly so.
Starting out with the boisterous “Give A Damn,” Bemis waves his middle finger higher than ever at his haters. “17 Coked Up and Speeding” quickly barrels into a minimalist rock anthem as Bemis screams, “Hey kid: You’re not a kid anymore!”
Now the father of two young daughters, Bemis allows that contrast between youthful innocence and jaded adulthood to dominate the content of the record. In “Jiminy,” Bemis gets heavily self-referential. He screams, “You might just find a socialist feeding off the fumes of an aging pop-punk vocalist, so destroy our first LP if you know what’s good for me.”
Respectively, these self-deprecating shots refer to a line on their last album (“I thought I’d be the next Billie Joe”), and the scathing critiques of Say Anything’s first album, Baseball. Bemis directs his furor at Disney in “Princess” asking, “Would you spit in little Lucy’s face because she watches the movie “Frozen,” and she wants to be a Princess even though Disney employs nearly genocidal practices,” referring to his eldest daughter.
A later highlight of the record find Bemis fed up with complaints from the pop-punk haters. “A career built on octave chords butchered to jilted time,” Bemis aches in “Attaboy,” “but it’s the frightfully mundane that keeps us alive.” Sherri Dupree-Bemis of the band Eisley, and Bemis’s wife, joins the song toward the end, encouraging Bemis to “Keep on keeping on.”
Bemis made this record as a group of songs you can yell along with, and it’s a riot from start to finish. In the midst of a tumultuous political season, ironic and not-so-ironic trends, and all the little things that get your goat, I encourage everyone to check out this record. You might just find the catharsis you need to keep on keeping on.