Say Anything have a lot to say. No surprise really...
Featuring a burning flag in the album artwork and political connotations in the title, it's not hard to work out the angle from which Say Anything have approached new record Anarchy, My Dear. Yes, it's intended to be an offering with 'something to say', a somewhat natural step for a band with a name such as theirs. While it may not be from as prominent a soap box as the ones Rise Against or Anti Flag preach from, this is most certainly the Californian sextet's edgiest release to date.
Say Anything's idiosyncratic leaning towards sweetly-packaged but brilliantly scathing lyricism plays a vital role in this record. If this was propaganda for the ideology of Max Bemis, then the acidity of reproach towards certain aspects of society would surely have us all overthrowing 'the man' in our droves. But this is not your regular protest record. Say Anything may have gone more punk-rock at their core, but the instrumental quality is as breezy and pop focused as it ever was. An eloquently reprised attack on pretentious scenester wankers (Admit It Again) seethes with acute frustration and disdain, but simultaneously offers a beat to get feet tapping. Peace Out features a beautifully twinkling acoustic guitar that could frame a hundred sweet love songs, but instead provides the backdrop to the spat-out sentiments of "You snort a line of syphilis and run the marathon, your mentally deficient friends just ask you what you're one". Yeah, you get the gist.
This strike out at the establishment works because of it's understanding of balance. The dark with the light, the rough with the smooth... the fluffy bunny with a chainsaw. Say Anything are subtle, rather than overbearing in what they want to say, and the mismatched delivery commands greater attention. Tried and tested methods have been channelled into unknown territory for a group that aren't really recognised for their activism, and they have pulled it off. With instrumental nods towards the godfathers of political punk rock (just have a listen to some of the guitar work in title track Anarchy, My Dear) and their infallible knack to crack skulls merely through the power of words, this was a very clever move in the evolution of this band.