Sometimes a simple idea for a record can be injected with such brutal honesty and wit that all simplicity is somehow lost in translation. As far as I know, ...is a Real Boy was intended to be a rock opera of sorts, but somewhere along the lines the idea sort of went awry. Either way, the songs on ...is a Real Boy are written around the idea that singer/songwriter/genius Max Bernis is a character who writes every honest idea that comes into his unexpended brain, and that's exactly how the lyrics come across: honest, clever, and adroit. And most of all, he writes with a sense of dry intelligence that makes me say, "Wow, that is neat." A few examples of the lyrical content...
"And this girl who I met whose pride makes her hard to forget,
She took pity on me horizontally, but most likely because of my band."
"Molly Connolly just broke up with me over the revealing nature of these songs. You goddamn kids had best be gracious with the merch money you spend because for you I won't ever have rough sex with Molly Connolly again."
As you can see, there isn't much Bernis is afraid to say, and that's what makes this record so compelling. He wrote a song about a girl, revealing personal information about their relationship, she got mad, and then he wrote another song about how they aren't every going to have "rough" sex again, with her full name in the song title. Genius!
Sound-wise, I wouldn't exactly know who to compare Say Anything to. It's pop rock, sometimes rather heavy, sometimes rather mellow, all the time with the wit turned up to 11! From the driven distortion of "Belt," "Orgy of Critics" and "Spidersong" to the bouncy "Woe" and "Futile," no two tracks on ...is a Real Boy really sound anything alike. What this doesn't sound like is Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, or Jimmy Eat World, although I am sure that's what sub genre everyone else will blindly bury this band into.
This record is honestly my favorite record of the year. It's clever, fun and catchy. Pick this up, sit down, and read the liner notes front to back about three to five times. You will laugh, your views on life will be challenged, and you will be sad, as you come to the realization that Max Bernis will never have rough sex with Molly Connolly again.