Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Reside – Say Anything’s In Defense of the Genre
Dear Say Anything’s Max Bemis,
You have provided me with albums and albums of material that have been the soundtrack to the developmental upbringing of my musical life. And while there are standout artists that I do idolise like yourself, none really live through the music they write quite like you do. For that, I feel like I could write this letter for almost all your records. However, it seems for me as though ‘In Defense of the Genre’ is the most deserving of that letter from the deep dark hole that people call my heart.
You see, this album isn’t just a breakup album for all those times I was replaying the exact moment things went wrong. This is a record that distorted my mind for what a punk band could be and how a rock album can tell such a tragic narrative just the same way a musical can. It was my first proper introduction to how to be more honest and direct in my songwriting. Most importantly, it showed me how someone can pour everything from a period of time into a collection of songs and make something that connects with another life halfway across the planet, maintaining that connection for 10+ years. I learned how important all of these things are when writing my music and I still look to your music as a reminder of these things today.
I first discovered your music from the song ‘Alive With The Glory Of Love’ and then followed very closely with the song ‘Shiksa’. It was after hearing these songs that I was enamoured by your way of telling stories and conveying meaning and symbolism in your lyrics. I was also completely engaged with your performances over tracks, with how you make sure the audience hangs off your every word and how you leave no filter on how you convey your emotions. I learned to make sure I do this with every song after listening to your records.
I’ll always appreciate the unique song concepts, and on this record in particular how you combine a relationship of love while honouring your heritage of being Jewish. Or say comparing an ex to a deity and the need to defy them and making commentary about alternative music scenes and cliques. There’s even a song you even explicitly apologise to your band for your emotional mental health.
This record is no small task. With two discs of music and 27 songs, it clocks in at nearly an hour and half’s worth of music. And I wouldn’t have it a minute less. It takes you on such a musical and emotional journey that I’ve never wanted to get off since I first heard it in its entirety. It’s so perfectly structured, and ordered so deliberately. As I mentioned earlier, it’s so clear that there’s a narrative but the way you can fill in that narrative is up to you. I guess for me, it ticks so many boxes when it comes to how I’ve experienced emotional anguish. How I’ve fallen in love and how I’ve been destroyed doing so with the eventual numbing that removes the pain of love loss.
I know for Dylan (drums in Reside) and I, the transition from the lullaby-like tune of ‘Goodbye Young Tutor, You’ve Outgrown Me’ into the smashing beginnings of ‘I Used to Have A Heart’ is something to be applauded. It almost shocks you with how sudden the contrast in dynamics are. The other thing I love about this record is how it traverses so many different musical stylings, from straight pop punk to hardcore breakdowns to lounge crooning tones to electro pop bangers. It holds no bounds and inspires me, knowing that my music can be the same.
I will forever be so thankful for the 10 Year Anniversary Tour that allowed me to see this record be performed in full, screaming every word back at you like I was trying to prove a point about how much this record means to not just me but everyone around me.
There’s so much I want to say but I feel nothing I can say will truly describe the love I have for this album and the effect it has had on my life. For all the times, shitty and amazing, this album has always been there for me, for that I am truly in debt to it.
Thank you for letting it be a part of my life. Forever yours, Liam xx
Reside’s single ‘Replace Me’ is out now. Their new EP ‘The Light That You Saw’ will be released on Friday, March 29. To celebrate, the band will hit the road this April for a handful of tour dates.
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