Touring on the strength of last year’s self-titled album — a collection of arena-rock guitar bombast, quirky hooks and lyrics that alternate between being emotively confessional and making fun of contemporary pop culture — Los Angeles pop-punk act Say Anything hits town tonight with Motion City Soundtrack and Saves the Day.
To their credit, the band aptly plays both sides of the fence — matching up dense lyrical prowess with meaty pop hooks.
“It’s rare that you come across a band that isn’t afraid to use big words, over-share, get awkward, get to the point where it’s not pretty,” frontman Max Bemis says.
He says acts that try to go the heady route, no matter how talented they are as songwriters, usually miss the mark.
“A lot of those bands tend to become either pretentious or really crappy emo bands,” says Bemis.
His sense of humor, evident on tracks like “Less Cute” and the Kings of Leon-jabbing “Mara and Me,” adds another layer of complexity. It’s part of a process of deconstructing genre conventions, says Bemis. In his band’s case, the genres under the microscope are emo and pop punk.
“We wouldn’t put in a solo that sounds like a mixture of Boston and something even cheesier, if we didn’t think it was somewhat funny,” says Bemis of the record’s playful arena-rock touches. “I learned a lot from bands like Weezer that came about as a reaction to all the self-seriousness that was going on in the ’90s. I also really, genuinely appreciate that type of music. I love Queen and Aerosmith, a lot. When I write an arena-rock song, it might be somewhat ironic, but it still comes from the heart.”