Friday, March 5, 2010

...Is A Real Boy Review

Max Bemis is an artist who deserves respect. If not just for his passion for the music he creates, but for the amount of effort put into his band's sophomore record "...Is A Real Boy". Though, Bemis would consider this to be their first creation, for he basically shuns his first effort, "Baseball". Onto the record at hand, Bemis takes his position as head of the operation -- Playing every instrument you hear except for the drums, which are put down by Coby Linder. Through the process of recording, Max was under an immense amount of stress and anxiety, brought by his marijuana abuse and obsession with making this record a masterpiece. The product of this obsession is certainly something to be proud of, to put it lightly. We're presented with Bemis' greatest effort to date, and one of my personal favorite albums of all time.

"And the record begins with a song of rebellion..."

As the opener of the album we're given "Belt", a strong track about rebellion against set boundaries. On top of that, we're given the first taste of Bemis' brilliant writing. He uses fantastic vocabulary and imagery to guide us through the varying tales told by each song. The singing has just the perfect intensity to show us he means business, but not once does he dive into pure screaming. It makes you feel as if there is a bubbling anger deep inside his gut, waiting to explode out through your speakers, but he saves that for later. That, I believe, is what makes this record so beautiful. The subtle, yet blatant anger is so wonderfully done that you can't pick out when he's furious, or just using a normal singing voice. The themes suggest he is seething, but the way it is served is interestingly calm, yet intense. The perfect example of Bemis' fury comes from the song "Chia-Like, I Shall Grow". If there is one song to listen to show his belligerence toward his foes, it is this. He is fully prepared to take on everyone, saying himself that he will spare no one.

"Sun, I won't spare/Moon, I won't spare you"

A critical point to address when creating a record is whether your music will have a long-lasting appeal. I've listened to this album for over three years, never once tiring of it. The way that each song is unique to the last has always struck me as wonderful. Listening to "Woe", a catchy song about letting loose the words suffocating your mind, and then listening to "The Writhing South", I get two completely different vibes. There is such an incredible balance of songs, which is unfortunately rare to hear, that you have to respect them for not attaching themselves to any pre-determined formulas. This, I believe, keeps them well above their, dare I say, mainstream competitors; as well as helping this record pass the test of time.

As the first single of the record, we have "Alive With The Glory of Love". An engaging love tale that takes place during the holocaust. Here, Bemis takes that intensity found in previous songs and transforms it into a passionate howl letting everyone know that nothing will stop him. The crashing drums and quick guitar really help portray the message about his unstoppable affection for whomever he may be singing to -- And of course the inspiring lyrics, once again sung perfectly by Bemis make this song one of the most addicting and memorable on the album.

"Our Treblinka is alive with the glory of love/Treblinka, alive with the glory of love!"

From there we are taken to the perfect mix of synth and guitar with "Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat". The rhythm is smooth and flowing, making it one of the more relaxing tracks to be found on the record. The lyrics are intelligent and descriptive, telling us the tale through the eyes of one man, observing the world around him. This may be the best song on the album, the way Bemis is able to tell depict each of the characters in such a vivid way is incredible; as well as how he builds the song up, having it on the verge of full explosion, but slows back down just before the moment of impact.

"These are my friends/This is who they have been for always/These are my days/This is how they stay"

Before we are led to believe that Max is the angriest man on the face of the planet, we're given a soft, romantic song. "I Want To Know Your Plans" is a sincere, heart pouring song, and another great display of Bemis' wonderful writing. He makes it honest and loving without making it a suffocating love song. But, of course, before we begin thinking he's gone soft on us, we're given "Admit It!!!". Quite possibly the most bitter song about the music industry to be produced so wonderfully. This is the song that made me really appreciate this album. The uncensored honesty that spews from Bemis here is one of the most impressive encapsulations of emotion I've heard in a song, as well as one of my favorite conclusions to an album. This song itself is enough to get you to listen to this album, just for the epic value of the last track.

"Go analog baby!/You're so post-modern/You're diving face-forward into an antiquated past/It's disgusting, it's offensive, don't stick your nose up at me!"

"...Is A Real Boy" is an album I will have endless praise for, as well as the man who produced it. Max Bemis creates one of the most memorable albums to be produced for the indie, pop-punk genre. That is indeed a bold statement, but I believe it to be true. The ride you're taken on while listening to it really brings a sense of awe once "Admit It!!!" ends. The thought that one man alone wrote such genius is really something to applaud. I could sit and talk about the timeless factor this has, and every song in it but instead I will say this. "...Is A Real Boy" is most definitely worth the 58 minutes you'll give to listen to it, and the many hours of repeated listening after that.

"Proud of my life and the things that I have done/Proud of myself and the loner I've become"

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