After nearly three years since their last record (their 2009 self titled album), Say Anything has finally returned with a vengeance, releasing their fourth studio album and in my opinion their best effort yet– Anarchy, My Dear.

I found Say Anything a bit later than most hardcore fans, but was quickly hooked when 95.5 WBRU began playing “Alive With the Glory of Love” round the clock on our local airwaves. I will never forget Say Anything because they came into my life at the perfect instant, immediately encapsulating my thoughts and feelings at that one moment in time.

It was August 2006, and I had recently come back into contact with my ex-girlfriend Carolyn. It had been over three years since our relationship ended, and while I was angry with her for what had happened like all things time healed most wounds. The biggest issue I still harbored with our split was the lack of closure that had been caused. Things ended so abruptly, it made getting over her infinitely more difficult. Earlier that year, we began e-mailing each other after she had reached out to me. Her relationship with her boyfriend had recently ended (the guy she left me for), and she had remorse with how things went down between us. I had bought the …Is A Real Boy re-release around this time, and began playing it nonstop while talking back forth via electronic communication with my former flame. After a month of chatting, we bit the bullet and decided we should probably meet up in person since it had been so long since our last encounter.

She offered to come down this way (she had recently moved back home after graduating from college), and decided we’d meet at the local mall for coffee. While it was awkward at first, it was one of the most liberating experiences of my life. Like slipping into a pair of comfortable shoes, it felt like we fell back three years and were right where we started. Coffee turned to dinner and the two of us ended up taking a stroll down on Thayer Street in Providence, reminiscing about the days of old. There was honestly nothing romantic about the evening despite the setup. It was just two old friends reuniting and putting the past to bed.

That weekend I found out that Say Anything was playing Monday night at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, and I was determined to go. Without a partner in crime, I called up Carolyn and asked if she wanted to join me for the show.

It was one of the best concert experiences of my life, and was completely caught up in the electricity of that night. It was also the first time Carolyn & I were able to share a legal drink together, considering we were both jailbait when we were dating.

I’ll never forget Max, Coby, and the gang that night and I’ll never forget that I shared this moment with Carolyn either. That week her and I spent a ton of time together (midnight swimming, hiking, lots of talking), and when it was over we went our separate ways. She started a new career as a teacher, and I was starting a new job myself (at a company I still work for to this day), but to me it wasn’t the end. It was just another chapter in my journey of self-discovery.

In that journey Say Anything has been with me since, as cheesy as it sounds. I snatched up every record they released, I began reading up about Max’s issues with depression and drug addiction, I saw the band live on numerous occasions, and I searched out any b-side, demo, or self-released song I could find.  I was now a disciple on the Altar of Bemis, and I wasn’t even a 17 year old girl!

To me Anarchy, My Dear is the perfect culmination of the work Say Anything has put forth over the years, combining all the sounds and variations of their eclectic style, producing a brilliant symphony thanks to Tim O’Heir returning as producer and puppetmaster. When the first single “Burn A Miracle” was released, I was taken back with the raw sound on display, especially after recently consuming the majority of Say Anything’s earlier work (Baseball, Menorah/Majora)  which many fans claim the band left behind following the success of …Is A Real Boy. An ignorant dismissal if you’ve truly followed the evolution of the band.

As the album began leaking out over the interweb and on the youtubes, I found myself at another crossroads in my life. For years I had become close with a friends cousin, building a friendship based out of my own ignorance and drunken stupidity. The day I had met her in 2009 I was rude, condescending, and straight up bullish to this poor girl who had only come to Massachusetts for her cousins baby shower.  Looking back, I’m glad I did what I did because it brought this girl into my life and changed me forever. She reached out to me in the days following our fateful meeting, and why I have no idea (it’s because she likes assholes). But because of this, and because she lived six hours away from me in New York, we instantly became close with each other. There was no need for secrets, and we became support for one another whether we immediately realized it or not. It’s not hyperbole to say that she became one of my best friends, a soul mate I never knew I was missing until she had arrived in my life.

Late last year I began to realize how much I cared for her and her daughter, and despite not seeing her since that night in 09′, it didn’t change the fact that everything I was feeling was real and I knew she felt the same despite the million roadblocks in front of us. Just as Say Anything was about to release their newest, my life was evolving yet again. Victoria came to visit the weekend before Anarchy, My Dear was released and that weekend made everything we had built up over two and a half years tangible in just an instant. While that incredible feeling of happiness was fleeting due to some unforeseen complications, the second I bought Anarchy, My Dear all those feelings came rushing back thanks to the work of this amazing band. Listening to this album will always remind me of how much I love Victoria, and how much my experiences with Carolyn and the other follies of my 29 year old existence has brought me here to who I am today, and who I want to be.

The emotional attachment I have definitely skews my opinion, but no one can deny the gravity of  “The Stephen Hawking” or the beauty of the titular track. “So Good” evokes the feelings of the sensuality and love behind every lyric. I had bought Tori & I tickets to see Say Anything at the House of Blues this past April, and while she obviously couldn’t join me she was most definitely there in spirit. Max & Company put on an amazing show despite my issues with the House of Blues itself (I’m pretty bummed they skipped Providence on this tour frankly), and was completely transported back to that wonderful night in the summer of 2006.

To me Anarchy, My Dear is an opus of hope, and when I dream of days that we might share I must thank Max for putting these wonderful words into my head and my heart.