Words by Brett Bodner
For nearly 10 years, Max Bemis of Say Anything has become known for his angsty lyrics, catchy songs,and his ability to bring something new to each album.
Hebrews is yet again following the idea of bringing something new to an album, with that idea you risk opening yourself up to criticism for straying from the norm. When I first saw the track listing for the album, which includes guest vocalists like Saves The Day’s Chris Conley, Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull, The Front Bottoms’ Brian Sella, and Balance and Composure’s Jon Simmons, I thought there was no way this album could disappoint.
Sadly, I was mistaken.
While Bemis gives us no reason to doubt his artistry or talent, a Say Anything album without guitars just doesn’t cut it. Guitars have helped make so many of the bands songs memorable, like “Alive With the Glory of Love”, “Admit It!”, and “Shiksa”. What Say Anything did on Hebrews is like Van Halen deciding to make an album without Eddie.
The electronics come across as ripped from an old Nintendo game, especially on “My Greatest Fear is Splendid.” Even blink-182’s Tom DeLonge on “Nibble, Nibble” couldn’t make one of the electronic songs better.
Despite the disappointing songs, there are still some great highlights on the record. The best tracks are the ones with drums and heavy bass because it’s the closest the album gets to guitar. These tracks include the first song released off the album “Six, Six, Six,” and the screaming vocals on “Boyd,” and “Kall Me Kubrick,” bring back memories of the old Say Anything.
My favorite song on the album is probably “Lost My Touch,” where Bemis starts off singing “Some say I’ve lost my touch in crafting Say Anything songs, I suppose I’ll let you take my place on stage.” The song is basically a passing of the torch and Bemis seems fine with letting someone else be the one known for being edgy. Perhaps this person could be Jeremy Bolm of Touché Amore, who absolutely kills it on guest vocals on the last minute of the song.
Despite what some fans like myself think, at the end of the day Bemis is going to make the kind of music he wants whether we like it or not. Hebrews is a decent album, but the lows surpass the highs and it’s not the best of the band’s catalog.
Equal Vision Records
© June 10th, 2014
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