Travis Morrison, ‘Travistan’ (Barsuk) Say Anything, ‘Say Anything is a Real Boy’ (Doghouse)
Soon, Max Bemis will get his ass kicked by a girl–figuratively, at least–and Say Anything will be over. Oh, the band could continue for years and conceivably make some of the best records of all time, but fairly soon young Max will meet a lady who demands his respect, and he will no longer be able to write lyrics like, “Molly Connolly ruined my life / I thought the world should know.”
You see, Bemis is 20, overprivileged, and awkward. His songs are about getting laid and girls messing him up, and he writes gigantic choruses that are at once poetic and deeply, portentously stupid. Like, “Our Treblinka is alive with the glory of love!” He plays virtually all the instruments on but frequently gives his “band”directions such as “Okay, speed it up!” All of this means that I will miss him terribly once he develops the ability to focus on objects beyond his erections. Until then, let’s all sit back and enjoy memorable sentiments like, “She took pity on me /Horizontally / But most likely because of my band.”
Travis Morrison has also done his time growing up in public, from the moment his arty quartet the Dismemberment Plan burst out of the D.C. scene in the late ’90s with a smart-ass novelty hit (“The Ice of Boston”). The Plan surprised everyone by getting really good, and later by breaking up after making their best album. On his first solo LP, Morrison shies away from his old band’s V-neck-sweater pseudo-funk and turns in a collection of enigmatic indie-rock tunes about death and family, bound together by four interludes concerning former presidents and the coins they grace. “My Two Front Teeth, Parts 2 and 3″ is a story about the singer getting his ass kicked in Georgetown that almost works as an allegory for 9/11.
Morrison’s way out on a limb here, but Travistan is as great a portrait of a pirate looking at 32 as Say Anything is a Real Boy is a picture of Max Bemis staring across a cliff toward a world where you can’t end a relationship by Instant Messenger. They’re both my dudes, and they’re both gonna be fine.