For fans of the new double-disc opus from Say Anything, In Defense of Genre, the October release date could not come fast enough. Now the album is finally up for release and it’s time to take a look at whether all the fuss surrounding this defender of genres was actually deserved.
Max Bemis has never really been a polished vocalist, whether considering his crude lyrics, forced rhymes or the fact that throughout half of the album he sounds like he’s passing a stone-Bemis definitely doesn’t try to sugar coat his messages on this album.
From the get-go on the first disc of In Defense, it becomes obvious this album is, as Bemis himself puts it, "a comet of verbal vomit" as well as all over the place in terms of musical style. While In Defense sticks pretty close to its rock groundings, it also bounces between dirty ballads, synthesized pop, hardcore, emo and a variety of other random attempts to be somewhat of an all encompassing defense of exactly what genre?
The album hits its lowest point (excluding the heavy sprinkling of f-bombs throughout most of the tracks) in the form of a heavy puking sound right in the middle of "Hangover Song." The vomit splattering over the top of vulgar lyrics pretty much epitomizes the depth of the lyricism involved with In Defense. That and the line "so I’ll go out and get crunk with my friends."
But in defense of the album, a more-than-healthy dose of vocal guests appear on the album join up with Bemis to mask his sketchy, rough singing. Guests include Pete Yorn DJ Swamp and members of Alkaline Trio, New Found Glory, Paramore, Taking Back Sunday, The Almost, My Chemical Romance, Circa Survive, Saves The Day, Dashboard Confessional and The Starting Line.
Kenny Vassoli even provides some pretty brilliant vocals. His pleas that accompany a string arrangement, that support the actual song, create an amazing close to "Plea" and the album itself.
In Defense of Genre has its moments where it shines ("Baby Girl, I’m a Blur," "That Is Why" and "Plea") but overall, it’s maybe worth a spin-if you can make it through songs like "This is F***ing Ecstasy," "An Insult to the Dead," "Died a Jew," "Spores," "Spay Me" and "You’re The Wanker, If Anyone Is."