Max Bemis has really outdone himself this time. The latest release from Say Anything pushes boundaries both lyrically and aesthetically. Hebrews, due out June 10th via Equal Vision Records, was recorded with no guitars, live strings, and sixteen guest vocalists, making it truly an original.
Max truly got in touch with his Jewish side for this release, with the cartoon version of Max as a Hesitic on the cover providing a first clue of this. There are somewhat satirical and sarcastic references and themes to both Judaism and Christianity, as in the song titles “Judas Decapitation,” featuring Gareth and Kim Campesinos (Los Campesinos!), and the title track “Hebrews,” featuring Brian Sella (The Front Bottoms). Besides all the religious themed lyrics, there is also a strong sense of self-loathing harkening back to the days of Is a Real Boy…
Although it sounds at times like you may think your ears are deceiving you, there truly are no guitars at all on this album. What you are hearing are live strings and keys, that were used to create the melodic lines and complimentary harmonies, along with drums or light percussion on almost every track. The only exception is “Lost My Touch” featuring Christie DuPree (Merriment) and Jeremy Bolm (Touché Amoré), which features simple accompaniment with no percussion. In this penultimate song on Hebrews, Max address haters and disbelievers head on when he sings “some say I’ve lost my touch in crafting Say Anything songs. I suppose I’ll let you take my place on stage.” The self-deprivation is evident on “My Greatest Fear Is Splendid” featuring Keith Buckley (Every Time I Die), where Max sings “my greatest fear is a splendid thing, it’s an image of a middle age me with an earring, playing shows to an empty bar.”
Family was also an obvious influence on Hebrews, with several references, and guest appearances, by Max’s wife, Sherri DuPree-Bemis, their daughter Lucy, Christine DuPree, and Chauntelle DuPree-D’Agostino. The song “Boyd” featuring Sherri DuPree-Bemis, is a tune written about Max’s father-in-law and manager Boyd DuPree.
Hebrews is an creative and successful venture for Say Anything. This is one summer release you will not want to pass by. The album is available June 10th on Equal Vision Records. Pre-order it on iTunes and find Say Anything on Facebook and Twitter.