Say Anything - ...Is a Real Boy
Sep 11, 2020

My 100 today baybeeeeeee

“The futile, the futile, it outweighs the beautiful.”

This review is not for you. It is for me, and not a damned other soul. It's a middle finger to my mental state. A confrontation of my sexual frustrations. What is probably going to either be my best or worst review.

This isn’t going to be like anything else I’ve written. Don’t think this is gonna be like Wildlife, Garbage, or even The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me. It’s more personal than I’m normally willing to be with people. This will be surprising to anyone who knows me well, because I’m horrid at opening up. I hate that I’m gonna do this—but I have to. As the album puts it, “This is something I have to do for myself.”

Don't think this is going to be some kind of public gutting, but in comparison to my normally very sarcastic/'don't share too much information that isn't already common knowledge' type of presentation, but in this case it's vital for me to share some experiences in order to articulate my perspective on this record. To me, this is one of those pieces of art that isn't really about what it's about. I have my own personal meaning to each and every song, so I'm going to try to balance two different factors: explaining my thoughts on the actual music and telling my own personal narrative. Don't know if I'll do a good job, but here goes nothing…

Note: I am going to be mostly talking about myself in this review as opposed to the lyrics, but the writing on this album is some of the best I've ever seen, so I'd recommend giving them a gander.

"Naked but that belt around my waist."

A belt of emotional baggage. A belt of bipolar mood swings. A belt of my past. It's a belt I for years have tucked under my shirt; kept it hidden from the world. The pleather threads entangle countless memories—including plenty that even my family/closest friends are unaware of. It's a belt that I'm slowly learning that I'll have to wear with pride (or as much as I can with my trust issues). The track's high energy, forceful yet catchy instrumental feels almost sarcastic to my ears. The girl who always seems like she's posturing how edgy she can be isn't confident enough to share her battle scars. Running through a triumphant pop punk back-drop pretending that everything in her life is perfectly fine.

“Woe” reminds me particularly of the period of my life my upcoming album is about (no this isn’t self-promo, I’m not Kaylon stfu). There was a period of time that I’m not going to specify where I was in love with one of my best friends. It felt woeful on my end, if you will. I am completely incompatible with this person, and yet my brain just wanted what I could never have. The sarcastically upbeat guitar lines and vocals reflect the almost sitcom-like view I have of my younger self. Longing for a relationship that never would (and frankly shouldn’t have) happened in such a dumb and naive way. What way is there really to view it beyond a cheerful, goofy backdrop and to revel in the melodrama.

Remember how I randomly mentioned sexual frustration earlier? Well, here’s what that was all about: “The Writhing South” is like a big-ass highlighter yellowing the text “Hey! Hey you! Your sex life and past sensual experiences are depressing to say the least!” I think neither you or I want me to elaborate on said ‘adventures’, so I’m gonna focus a little more on the song itself. The pounding acoustic guitar has a great amount of energy despite being a traditionally soft instrument, which makes for a kick-ass transition into electrics in the chorus (I’d like to highlight that this album has some of the best hooks I have ever fucking heard). Max Bemis’ snotty but distinct and textured vocal performance gives the already fun track that extra dash of exasperated emotion.

“Alive With the Glory of Love” is the literal embodiment of my protective nature as a partner. If I even slightly fancy a guy, I will do everything in my power to make sure nothing hurts them. I can’t accept somebody doing something that might pain them. The idea of it is upsetting and unacceptable. While this level of love and loyalty has been appreciated by some in the past, it has a tendency to get me into water... Hot water that is intense like the fast pace riffing and drumming present here. There’s a very happy-go-lucky sound to the track, which I like to envision as the sort of euphoric sensation I get when I’m interested in somebody, but the speed of the instrumental (and the frankly very dark lyrics) are like the consequences of being such a vigilant woman.

“These are my friends. This is who they have been for always. These are my days. This is how they stay.”

Complete and utter dejection. Disappointment in myself. The inability to fix the people around me. “You can’t save those who won’t save themselves,” or, “mental health won’t be repaired with a verbal bandage,” rings through my head on a regular basis. It’s soul crushing, really. Having a desire to save, yet instead being forced to just waltz on forward with the best you can do is to be there. To care. To listen. I feel the sorrow in Bemis’ voice; trying to project a sense of contempt but being unable to fully mask the sadness of the situation. The plodding sound of the song is almost like frustratedly pacing around your room after something pissed you off or made you sad.

Zoinks Scoob, it’s the song with the quote that opens the review! “The Futitle” is best explained in one word: release. It’s pissed off at the world. It’s snotty. It’s snarky. It’s done with your shit. It’s catchy. The chorus buries itself in your head. Fucking simple as that.

“Spidersong” is like a more detached sequel to “The Writhing South”. While equally as peppy in the instrumental, there is a strong sense of “I don’t actually want much emotional gain from this interaction, just the rush of dopamine”. As a bit of a Detached Edgy Bitch™, I high key vibe with that.

Vulgar song title anyone? Oh come on, it’s 2000’s pop punk. You know you were anticipating one. “An Orgy of Critics” is like a spout of frustration where you just lean into your own self-criticism. You don’t want to improve or deal with the problem, just to revel in your downtrodden mood swing and entertain the critics within your own brain. With the most distorted sound and aggressive vocal delivery on the album, the instrumental pounds a sense of snarky malice into your ears. The sweeter chorus sounds sarcastic when sandwiched in between such angry verses.

“Every Man Has A Molly” is the sort of calm moment that follows an uptick of rage or depression. It’s that swing into mania. Impulsivity goes into hyper drive. Everything is good. Nothing can hurt you anymore. There’s a similar upbeat riff in the song that’s in your brain. The drumming sounds like it’s skipping along a sidewalk joyously (does that make sense? Am I being pretentious and dumb?).

If I may bring up my own work once more, “Slowly, Through a Vector” mirrors something I’ve written about. Somebody you love is very self-destructive; they refuse to take care of themself. No matter how hard you try to protect them, try to lift them up, they still are stuck in a rut. It’s maddening. It’s depressing. It fucking hurts. There’s a resignation in the vocal delivery, and the instrumental is more bare than the others. It’s reserved in the care it’s giving, out of fear of further pain. Throughout this review I’ve been fairly neglectful of the album’s lyrical content aside from a few points, but for this song I think it’s the most relevant to explore a bit. There is a specific section that resonates with me in a way very few other lyrics have:
“When I get to your apartment
I climb the rail upside the building
A band of them were in your apartment
They tied you up, unwound, unwilling
I watch them cut, watch them touch
I watch them do what they came to do
And then in I come to lick it up
And clean up what is left of you.”
The pure helplessness and inability to stop them from being hurt to begin with—only able to ‘clean up what is left’ of them—induces a guilt matched by no other. This verse reminds me of something I’ve experienced too many times to count, to the point where it's almost a part of my identity. I’m a motherly person, but those who I try to parent aren’t interested in caring for themselves.

For a stark tonal shift, “Chia-Like, I Shall Grow” (Jesus fuck this album really did come out in 2004) sounds like the auditory embodiment of my temper issues. The guitars are roaring and thunderous with a danceable element to them. It’s a very fun, hyped up pop punk track with a great hook to accompany it, as well as sounding like it’s filled with passive aggression. There’s a sense of catharsis I get whenever I hear it. Like smashing up old, damaged goods with a sledgehammer without having to move a muscle.

White guy with an acoustic guitar song! Todd’s favorite! Seriously though, "I Want To Know Your Plans" is one of the warmest tracks on the album. Whenever I hear it, I imagine myself cuddled up with a partner under a blanket next to a fireplace. Everything feels good. All is calm. It’s an escape from reality.

There is not a damned song in the world that lifts me up like “Admit It”. The chorus proclaiming Bemis’ pride in himself is infectious. He’s proud of his life, and so am I. Both of us have fought to get to where we are, and that persistence is valuable. The evolution of the track over the 6 minute runtime can only be described with a term coined by Pipe: peak music. The ascension into a grand, huge sound is untouchable. It’s like standing atop a mountain that took 50 minutes to climb and staring at the stunning view. There’s only one phrase that I can think of at the end of this album: “You won.”

If this mess of a review didn’t make this clear enough: I’m a bit of a nut. I’ve dealt with some shit. I don’t deal with my frustrations in a particularly healthy or effective way—but Is A Real Boy gives me a chance to ventilate. I’m an overheated computer, and this album acts as a fan. I know a lot of you are gonna listen to this and think, “How did you pull that from *this* record?” And frankly, I don’t really have an answer. I don’t usually love pop punk to this extent, but this one just...hits me. It’s different. It means a lot to me. I love it, and that’s all that matters to me.

I hope you guys have an album like this in your life. It feels great to have a safe listening experience. Y’all deserve that.

FAVORITES: Belt | Woe | Alive With the Glory of Love | Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat | Chia Like, I Shall Grow | Admit It

LEAST FAVORITE (If I HAVE to pick): Every Man Has A Molly

Summary: Uh haha I’m the funny meme girl I say the funny Microphones in 2020 thing hahaha
Sep 11, 2020
A great review for a great album, well done!
Sep 11, 2020
Love This <3
Sep 11, 2020
Sep 11, 2020
How do you go from this to Antipoggers, what the heck
Sep 11, 2020
@Pipe because I'm insane
Sep 11, 2020
@CLJesse also because you're a great writer and this is a great review
Sep 11, 2020
Sep 11, 2020
@Pipe take my dick out of your mouth smh
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