What's the verdict on Say Anything's new album, 'Hebrews'?
Max Bemis sure has a lot on his plate these days. Whether he's taking care of his one year old daughter Lucy, writing comic books for Marvel, or making sounds in his band Perma with wife Sherri Dupree-Bemis, he hasn't lost sight of the project that started it all: Say Anything. Over the past few years, however, the albums that Say Anything has put out just never reached the quality that the band found early in their career. Their 2009 self-titled record failed to live up to the highly ambitious 2-disc album before that, In Defense of the Genre, whereas the band's latest, Anarchy, My Dear, failed to live up to...well...everything, really. Luckily, Bemis nails it with Say Anything's newest record, Hebrews, and it's by far the band's most unique and imaginative record to date.
Say Anything releases Hebrews on June 10
But what's so great about it? When Bemis spoke with Billboard about Hebrews back in December, he said the album was going to be pretty special. "It's actually kind of a really special record for us," Bemis said. "I can't exactly get into why, but it's definitely kind of a big shift for us in certain ways...some really crazy arrangements." He wasn't kidding. As time went on and album details started to emerge, it was revealed that Hebrews would have over ten guest vocalists, featuring the likes blink-182's Tom Delonge, The Get Up Kids' Matt Pryor, and Every Time I Die's Keith Buckley. Additionally, the album would also have zero guitars, all live strings, and huge orchestration. "This has easily been the most gratifying and fun making a record has ever been," Bemis told Billboard in April. Set for release on June 10, Hebrews is streaming a week early on Spotify, so it's available for your listening pleasure in case you're wondering what all the fuss is.
Though unconventional in nature, Hebrews fits the mindset of Bemis perfectly. He may just be the only musician able to pull off something as crazy as this and have it work out so well. The funny thing is with the record is that it's no different than the Say Anything albums that weren't so good, but the difference is that those albums tried too hard to be different and unique, and with Hebrews, it just comes naturally. The instrumentation is jarring and eclectic in the best ways possible in tracks like 'Six Six Six' and 'Kall Me Kubrick,' and every guest vocalist that is featured fits the album's mold with ease. Some highlights: Jeremy Bolm of Touche Amore at the end of 'Lost My Touch,' Tom DeLonge on 'Nibble Nibble,' and Sherri Dupree-Bemis on 'The Shape of Love to Come.'
The success with guests shouldn't come as a surprise though, since Say Anything is no stranger to the concept. With 2007's In Defense of the Genre, that record actually featured even more guests, including Paramore's Hayley Williams and My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way. On Hebrews, the guests just flow much more seamlessly, and with their last two records lacking features, it's clear that they should be a staple on all Say Anything records. With all the craziness surrounding the album's creation, you've got to wonder how the songs will translate into a live setting. Bemis admits it'll be difficult, telling Billboard that the strings will be transposed to guitars for the time being until live strings can be incorporated. Until then, we'll sit and watch optimistically, because as weird as it seems, Bemis has proven that he'll find a way to make this stuff work.