Few bands boil my blood like Say Anything does. Without exception, they are the only band that I absolutely hate—and at the same time, with equal fervor, I absolutely love. Simply put, their stellar—and yet, sort of horrible—...Is a Real Boy album shamelessly pulls back the curtain on the emo music scene, exposing the pathetic underbelly of a world that has somehow managed to stay relevant for far too long.
With great flair, this band, led by the extremely cocky Max Bemis, gleefully exposes emo music for the fraud it really is. Granted, it doesn't take Encyclopedia Brown to unearth the mystery that sensitivity in song is just a bridge to get guys in bands some action, but Bemis takes it one step further with "Every Man Has a Molly," a misogynistic romp with the decree of "Molly Connolly just broke up with me over the revealing nature of the songs/You goddamn kids had best be gracious with the merch money you spend/'Cause for you I won't ever have rough sex with Molly Connolly again." Classy.
Of course Bemis' sights are not just set on knocking off any woman who dares get in his way; like any good emo kid worth his weight in hoodies, he writes about himself. Often. In "Admit It!!!" the blaring call to arms that closes ...Is a Real Boy, he sings, "I am shamelessly self-involved/I spend hours in front of the mirror to make my hair elegantly disheveled/I worry about how this album will sell because I believe it will determine the amount of sex I will have in the future." Love the kid or hate him, at least he is very honest. To incorporate this sort of meta-songwriting and show your hand is a painfully candid moment, even if it means just perpetuating the stereotypes of the music scene he resides in. Then again, how could you condemn someone who demonstrates his understanding of the ridiculous intricacies of the emo universe by titling a song "I Will Never Write an Obligatory Song About Being on the Road and Missing Someone"?
It's a rarity to find a band you are (begrudgingly) a fan of, yet at the same time, you wouldn't dare recommend to a friend. Bemis and company are a living, breathing contradiction, a band that has somehow managed to turn self-sabotage into a nice career of album sales and sold-out shows. It's a frustrating give and take, because Say Anything might be the single greatest, and worst, thing to happen to modern music, but at least they're like nothing else out there.