Formed as a high-school project, Say Anything quickly propelled frontman Max Bemis to semi-stardom, not to mention a certain dubious notoriety. After numerous breakdowns and über-sarcastic albums like 2007’s In Defense Of The Genre, Bemis is back—at the ripe old age of 25—with Say Anything's self-titled, third full-length. It's even better crafted than its sprawling, genre-hopping predecessor. Sadly, it’s also more obnoxiously solipsistic. With pop-punk as primer, Bemis madly splatters everything from horns to waltzes to power balladry across his songs—something he brags about in the sequenced pop jam “Crush’d.” But even more aggravating than his attention deficit is his unrelenting focus on his favorite subject, Max Bemis. Bemis’ myopia hits its shrillest note on “Mara And Me,” in which he stops the song cold to declare, “Wait a second, I can’t write the same damn song over and over again / I can’t define myself through irony and self-deprecation / I can’t deny myself being alive through my alienation.” Bemis is one of the cleverest, catchiest, most technically accomplished songwriters of his generation; that’s a given. All he needs now is to get over his own neurotic precociousness.
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