By: Peter Gaston

Say Anything mastermind Max Bemis was anointed from the start, pegged as a dynamic talent on the rise, destined to reinvigorate and revolutionize. But, just as things were looking the most rosy, Bemis experienced a series of crippling (and, based on his own accounts, absolutely frightening) mental episodes that have forced the cancellation of tours and back-burnered his burgeoning career. After dropping off this fall’s Saves the Day/Senses Fail tour, Bemis explained his most recent setback with a post on his website: “[T]his time I stayed up two nights and thought over the course of the day that I was: a) dead; b) in hell; c) the last three years of my life became a junkie on the street; d) more horrendous crap. I’m not going to get into it, but I ended up freestyle rapping on a corner in Brooklyn and getting karate kicked in the chest. I thought that my closest friend was dead and I was responsible. That was terrible. It was enough to teach me I have no choice but to seek help through medication for the rest of my life.”

Say Anything…Is a Real Boy, the 2004 debut that’s set for a double-disc reissue in early 2006, offers thirteen reasons to hope Bemis can get his life in order and make music for a very long time. While any number of pretty-boy emo bands drop vapid song after vapid song, Bemis proves that emo’s shackles can be shaken off long enough for true artistry and genuine depth. The big single here, “Alive With the Glory of Love,” belies its peppy opening verses and turns into a heart-wrenching love story set during the Holocaust: “Should they catch us and dispatch us to those separate work camps / I’ll dream about you, I will not doubt you with the passing of time / Should they kill me, your love will fill me as warm as the bullets.” That massive contrast between music and lyrics permeates Real Boy; fun-sounding romps like “Belt” get a heavy dose of gritty lyrical realism.

Bemis just announced a few live dates for 2006, just after the album gets reissued by J in late February. However, Say Anything…Is a Real Boy is available now on iTunes.

Say Anything tour dates:

3/1, New York, NY (CBGB) 3/17, Houston, TX (Walter’s on Washington)3/25, Port Monmouth, NJ (Middletown VFW Hall)3/26, Bellmore, NY (Live Trax)

Say Anything official site

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