I expected to start off my review with a short graph on how there will be no other Say Anything album that will ever compare to …Is a Real Boy. My intention wasn’t to be that jerk; there’s no denying Max Bemis has produced some incredible work since 2004. But since then, there hasn’t been a full-length Say Anything album that compared or surpassed in quality.
That was, of course, until I listened Hebrews. Bemis and co. really blew me away this time. I love how it’s sonically significantly different than anything they’ve ever done but lyrically there is a huge resemblance of the past. It truly is the best of both worlds.
What I find captivating is fact that there’s no use of a guitar or any type of strings at all, with the exception of the light use in “Lost my Touch” featuring Jeremy Bolm (Touche Amore) and Christie Dupree (Merriment). I don’t think I’ve seen a pop punk band do that ever. Surprisingly, I like it a lot better. I think the lack of strings really brings focus to the vocals and lyrics. Bemis’ voice was so prominent that I really felt the emotion behind the lyrics, a reaction that I really haven’t not experienced since I first fell in love with …Is a Real Boy.
What was also really interesting was the different players and their role in each track. There are sixteen guest vocalists on this album including Tom Delonge (Blink 182, Angels and Airwaves), Sherri Dupree Bemis (Bemis’ wife and Eisley member), Keith Buckley (Everytime I Die), and Chris Conley (Saves the Day). I think my absolute favorite collaboration was the title track “Hebrews” featuring Brian Sella from the Front Bottoms. You can really tell how similar Bemis and Sella are vocally; it’s almost as if Bemis was singing alone on the track. I also loved “The Shape of Love to Come” featuring Dupree Bemis only because it was so reminiscent to my favorite track off the band’s 2009 self-titled, “Crush.”
I think if I was forced to pick two songs I didn’t really love, it would be “Boyd” featuring DuPree Bemis and “Lost My Touch” featuring Bolm and Dupree. These tracks are very different sonically but what they have in common is that they just don’t fit. “Boyd” was probably the most punk track on the album, which I normally don’t mind, but it was just a very awkward change from the beginning of the album. “Lost My Touch” also presented a weird transition from the track before it and was a little too melancholy, even for Bemis.
I’m not sure if I could ever admit that a new Say Anything album is better than …Is A Real Boy; that album came out at such a weird, transitional period for me. I will say that Hebrews is most definitely a close second. It’s been really hard for Say Anything to evolve over the last few years and I think they finally mastered the growth. Now that they’ve found this niche, I hope they continue to produce more stellar albums like this.
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As the Managing Editor, Lauren Stern is responsible for curating Pop-Break.com’s content. This includes managing the editorial staff, coordinating the content calendar, and assigning publishing dates and deadlines. She graduated Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism and Philosophy. She spends her free time searching for the best gluten-free food in the Tri-State area, playing with her dogs, and reading an insane amount of books. She tweets constantly about pop culture and social issues and hopes you follow her musings @laurenpstern.