Say Anything have been around in various forms for around 18 years now, yet their future is anything but certain. Back in August of last year, the band announced (in a 10-page summation penned by frontman, Max Bemis) that they’re preparing to take an indefinite hiatus, but not before dropping one, perhaps final, LP by the name of ‘Oliver Appropriate’.
It’s a record that depicts Bemis‘ struggles with drug culture, sexuality, all alongside a potent social commentary on the madness of modern times.
For the sharp-eared out there, the fictional character of Oliver allows Bemis to relay his problems through a separate outlet, and it works quite nicely too. We follow this character through some tough times, from becoming unemployed (‘Fired’), battling with drugs (‘Pink Snot’), crippling hangovers (‘The Band Fuel’), and “this confusing spectrum of modern sexuality” (‘Send You Off’). The guy really does have it rough.
Instrumentally, this record is largely occupied by acoustic guitars, but it still feels very much like a punk record. The driving melodies of ‘Daze’ and ‘Ew Jersey’ matched with Bemis‘ bitterly growling vocals sound like they’d transition excellently to a gain-driven track, but the choice to have a punchy acoustic number instead adds to the rawer aspect that Say Anything harness so well across the record. An incorporation of electronics and subtle textures enhance it further, while sparking vocals adds a spiciness to the sound, giving a quite confident, if not complete, texture.
As ever, Bemis‘ lyrical wit is both profound and enjoyable, if not incredibly passive-aggressive, and almost like he’s throwing eggs at everyone in reach, as he remarks “I know a lot of men in hardcore bands / Collectively funding the Columbians” on the aforementioned ‘Pink Snot’, or full on hatred on ‘The Hardest’: “I’ll slit your throat and leave you gaping.”
It goes without saying that the frontman is integral to the themes and issues that Oliver expresses on the record, but Bemis‘ panache and heart-on-sleeve approach really gives dimension to it as a whole, namely because, as he so modestly confirms, “I’m a slick son of a bitch.”
If this is the last we hear of Say Anything, then it certainly hasn’t disappointed. Brutally raw depictions of a run-down, struggling frontman that epitomises much of modern life, guided by clever, hard-hitting lyricism and propelling melodies makes ‘Oliver Appropriate’ a clear winner in the Say Anything discography.