Solo maestro and outlandish mastermind behind 15-year-old punk-rock/alternative/progressive band Say Anything (and my personal teenage hero), Max Bemis, just relinquished onto the music world a surprise 12 track album entitled I Don't Think It Is that he claims "to be the craziest record" he's "ever made" -- and many Say Anything fans wouldn't hesitate to agree. Bemis, who has previously dabbled in rock operas, a double-album defense of emo during its most excoriated period, and a punk cover of an Ol’ Dirty Bastard song, spent the better part of a year in the studio collaborating and producing the avant-garde, punk-rock album with Mutemath drummer, Darren King, "without any plans for how it would turnout," as they took the opportunity to embrace "the free-spirited cliche of musicianship." With the help of the overly ambitious, eccentric grab bag of creative genius that is Max Bemis's brain, "the record formed some weird will of its own." Although Say Anything is a oneman band at its core, Bemis commissioned a shit load of talent for I Don't Think It Is, as it features appearances by band members from The Blood Brothers, At The Drive-In, The Hotelier, Little Big League, Backwards Dancer, Tiny Moving Parts, as well as Max Bemis's wife, Sherri of Eisley, her two sisters, and the return of (essentially) founding Say Anything bass player Alex Kent after 7-8 years.
I Don't Think It Is, which carries an underlying message of "empowerment balanced by the grubby quirks of the human mind, unmarred by some cliché sense of positivity" boasts samplers, "analogue weirdness," "NotSayAnything aspects" and improvisational playing, a by-product of Bemis fusing elements from his already established musical personality, like his characteristic scream-singing (which, to my delight, appeared quite frequently throughout the album), dynamic instrumentation and angsty, distorted electric guitar with completely new inspirations like "early Beck, J Dilla, NYC Hardcore" and "soul," which can be ascribed to "throwing Darren's aesthetic into the equation." While the album features familiar sounding, Say Anything-esque tracks like "Give A Damn," "So Numb" and "Jiminy," it also introduces unconventional, more experimental styles, found in songs like "Rum," "Goshua," "The Best Easton Ells School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry" and "Varicose Visage" that may take some fans a while to warm up to. Luckily, at least for me, part of what makes Say Anything's sound so authentically addicting and consistently comforting is the unmistakable personality of Max Bemis's unique screaming/talking singing coupled with his idiosyncratic lyric writing. These elements alone help keep these essential watermarks of Say Anything's music in tact, despite the album'sapparent indulgence in uninhibited creative freedom. I Don't Think It Is proves not only to be a rebellion against fans' expectations of a typical Say Anything album and a true exercise of the limitless bounds of Max's musical creativity, but a new, exciting layer that adds to the band's overall story and confirms Say Anything's long life expectancy. As Max Bemis said in his true, quirky fashion, "I Don't Think It Is has cemented in in my mind that it's going to be a fun few decades before I'm too old to parade my ever-expanding ass in front of a crowd of sweaty kids."
Read the full version of Max Bemis's written prelude to the album and purchase Say Anything's I Don't Think It Ishere, or stream the entire album below.
1. Give A Damn
2. 17 Coked Up Speeding
4. So Numb
8. The Bret Easton Ellis School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry