Album Review
Say Anything - In Defense of the Genre Album Cover

Say Anything - In Defense of the Genre

Reviewed by
Say Anything - In Defense of the Genre
Record Label: J Records
Release Date: October 23, 2007
For some reason, I was nervous about reviewing Say Anything’s newest album, In Defense of the Genre. Maybe I was worried that people wouldn’t agree with what I had to say, or maybe it was because I didn’t feel that I knew enough about the band. With the cult-like following that Say Anything boast, the last thing a reviewer wants to do is make people angry. There is nothing more frightening than a mob of Say Anything fans chasing you with swords and clubs, as the album artwork suggests.

The double-disc, which is a whopping 27 songs long, is an album that blurs the genre lines with incorporations of everything from electronica, dance, hardcore, swing, jazz, pop, and rock.
Disc one opens with “Skinny, Mean Man,” a song that caught me off guard with its intensity and aggregative style. Overall, it doesn’t have a solid “flow” to it, but instead changes from aggressive to bright, then from bright to tranquil in an ending the features lead vocalist Max Bemis’ voice repeating "faster, faster" over quiet, placid guitar. “No Soul,” featuring Anna Waronker and DJ Swamp, is a track sprinkled with keyboard and synthesizer and at times feels like a hellogoodbye b-side and at other times a dance-club remix. However, this chaotic (and often confusing) method of piecing song parts together isn’t unique to just these two songs, but runs as a motif throughout both discs, with each song seemingly losing its identity not from a lack of creativity, but from the amount of creativity. With every track bursting at the seams with the instrumentation, from synthesizers ("Baby Girl, I’m a Blur") to arrangements that feel like they should be playing from a saloon jukebox ("That is Why"), I felt overwhelmed and bewildered. Was it because of the unnatural arrangements? Was it because of the lawlessness and tumultuous feel of the record? Or was it because I was viewing the record the wrong way, by taking it apart song by song? With that being said, In Defense of the Genre is not meant to be understood as a record reliant on the individuality of each song, but as a sum of its parts - as a model (and defense) of the genre.

In the back of the album booklet is a section devoted to the recognition of the guest appearances on the record. Usually, this part of the booklet is brief. However, the list for In Defense of the Genre is astounding, full of the most familiar names in music, such as Haley Williams (Paramore), Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance), and Kenny Vassoli (The Starting Line). I doubt that marketing is the reason for the grand amount guests on the record. Instead, Say Anything are doing their best to defend a genre that is often criticized for lack of innovation by incorporating artists from the bands who define the genre, allowing the critics to either accept the album at face value or deny it.

Regardless of intent or vision, Say Anything have succeeded in making an album that is both original and enjoyable, a thought-provoking piece that borrows from a multitude of influences. Although the record could have been cut to one disc and is less focused than …Is a Real Boy, the vast array of instruments and musical and vocal arrangements make up for it. If anything, the creation of In Defense of the Genre hasn’t started a war, but has stopped one. It has united all of those crowded in front of the main stage at Warped Tour together at the pit not for a fist fight, but for a long awaited unification.

Track ListingDisc 1

01. Skinny, Mean Man
02. No Soul
03. That is Why
04. Surgically Removing the Tracking Device
05. This is Fucking Ecstasy
06. The Church Channel
07. Shiksa (Girlfriend)
08. Baby Girl, I’m a Blur
09. Retarded in Love
10. People Like You Are Why People Like Me Exist
11. Died a Jew
12. An Insult to the Dead
13. Sorry, Dudes. My Bad.

Disc 2

01. Spay
02. In Defense of the Genre
03. The Truth is, You Should Lie With Me
04. The Word You Wield
05. Vexed
06. About Falling
07. You’re the Wanker, if Anyone Is
08. Spores
09. We Killed It
10. Have at Thee!
11. Hangover Song
12. Goodbye Young Tutor, You’ve Now Outgrown Me
13. I Used to Have a Heart
14. Plea
This review is a user submitted review from topher465. You can see all of topher465's submitted reviews here.
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 28
09:59 PM on 11/27/07
coughin' like you caught a cold
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HangsLikeHeaven's Avatar
not agreeing with 7.75 on the lyrics, man

good review nonetheless
10:38 PM on 11/27/07
put your hands up for detroit
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jenny_ell's Avatar
good review. to be honest i didnt really like the cd at first but now i have had it playing in my car nonstop and i only skip one song on the first disc- an insult to the dead.( i just am not feeling that song.)

but this cd really suprised me. its awesome.
06:15 AM on 11/28/07
Trollin' Absolutepunk.
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applesandcyanid's Avatar
'That Is Why' is far and away the worst song on this album in my opinion. The other 26 are fucking gold though, AOTY.
06:38 AM on 11/28/07
Registered User
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No Avatar Selected
I completely agree with the second paragraph. most of the songs i like until some strange part ruins it for me. As well as the guest vocals..most of them ruin the song in my opinion, like gerard ways part(that song rocks until he steps in), and whoevers in about falling, and especially that last song on disc one. I do like the song with the TBS singers though (they actually back max nicely and dont change the song). but basically, i havnt listened to this album since the week it came out.
03:42 PM on 11/28/07
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newfoundmichael's Avatar
'That Is Why' is far and away the worst song on this album in my opinion. The other 26 are fucking gold though, AOTY.

I thought 'Shiksa' and 'That Is Why' were the two best songs on the album.

Oh, and awesome review. I thought the score should have been higher, but I like how you said the album didn't flow to you because of there being to much creativity. I could definitely see that.
06:33 PM on 11/28/07
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minustheburt's Avatar
this album is great, full of rad songs! the channel, no soul, and skinny mean man, my favorites.
08:13 PM on 11/28/07
slap bet commissioner
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a.t.123's Avatar
i'm not too crazy about this review
just talked about the band instead of the record
a 27 track record as complex at this deserves more attention to the music then the band
and i agree that the lyrics could be a bit higher
01:39 AM on 11/29/07
Laying Down the Law
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FreshyFresh23's Avatar
This review is horribly off the mark. You fail to justify your marks considering how grandiose and epic this cd - it really is a culmination of years of song written coming together to tell the rise and fall of a man and his love and is really one of the AOTY.

The 7.75 in lyrics is just asinine - sorry.

Also, I think you are completely wrong about saying the songs are not to be valued - each one brings something special to the album. Listen to Have At Thee! or We Killed It and try and tell me differently. Brilliant song writing, awesome musicianship. Great cd. The other review was more on the mark.
11:02 AM on 11/29/07
Registered User
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tbsrock08's Avatar
Its a good cd...little weird but good. Its one of those albums you pop on when you are bored and got nothing else to listen to...Pop it on every now and then and start knodding your head type rock
04:02 PM on 11/29/07
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cassusriff's Avatar
The album couldn't have been cut to one disc... there are maybe 3 songs that could be considered filler and unecessary... but really, they all are necessary.
04:52 PM on 11/30/07
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Branevember31's Avatar
i think this is a good review, though i dont agree with the overall score, and especially the lyric score
06:20 PM on 12/01/07
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i disagree with the lyric score, it should be much lower.
09:00 PM on 12/01/07
coheeds monstar
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coheeds monstar's Avatar
This cd was alright. It wasn't as great as I was hoping for. Say Anything tried some new things and I respect that. Some songs aren't as strong as others but for a double disc it was a pretty good.
12:40 AM on 12/02/07
saving jonathan
everything in transit
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saving jonathan's Avatar
overall, this album doesn't have any flow for me. it has a few solid songs in my opinion, but a lot of the tracks have parts where it's just like, maybe if they stuck to a more basic song structure i could get into the song more.
either way, lyrical content is interesting to try to follow, and you can't knock these boys for creativity. they tried it all on this disc, so they have my respect on that.

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