In Defense of the Genre is all about second glances. At first glance, it appears to be just another almost pop-punk, almost emo, almost indie CD that fits in well with the musical tastes of today’s youth. Under further inspection, In Defense of the Genre is worth far more than the sums of its parts.
Just like Say Anything’s last album, …Is a Real Boy, the lyrics of Genre are much more about passion than they are about tact. If someone were to just read the lyrics without actually listening to the songs, they may not be that impressed. But, when those lyrics are heard being belted out by lead singer Max Bemis they becoming something worth listening to. Bemis sings with such intensity and honesty, that whatever he sings seems to make sense and makes you realize that he really means what he sings.
This isn’t saying that all the songs are amazing works of lyrical genius though. In Defense of the Genre spans two discs and 27 songs, most of which are quite good, some verging on amazing (“Plea”). Others though, just don’t seem necessary. “Died a Jew,” isn’t musically offensive at all (although it may be lyrically offensive to some), but just feels as if the album would do better without it.
The album also features a wide variety of guest vocals, 23 in total. Most of these work rather well, especially Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba’s guest vocals on “About Falling.” Some seem out of place though. Especially Chris Conley from Saves the Day on “Sorry Dude, my Bad.” His nasally vocal style just doesn’t fit with the music backing it.
Genre isn’t really one of those albums that grows on you the more you listen to it. It is the type of album that all of a sudden you just understand it. Suddenly the lyrics and musical progressions will just make sense, and when that happens, prepare to have a new musical obsession.