IARB changed that and blasted them into the limelight. Still entirely written and mostly performed by Max Bemis it was a beast of a different color. While most of the early Say Anything work featured simple pop-punk guitars and simple keyboard/synth work, IARB showed that there's was pure talent underneath. Progressing into a more indie-rock/pop-punk/post-hardcore fusion, it's aggressive, it's catchy, it breaks down barriers. The sound will easily appeal to anyone even remotely interested in post-hardcore or rock of any kind. It's chaotic and yet soothing at the same time. Nothing feels out of place, every switch up, every time change, there's a reason for it all. It's about as close as perfection as it gets in terms of sound.
While the instrumentals are unique, powerful, and appealing, the lyrics are something sent down from on high. Alright so maybe I'm exaggerating a bit but at times they feel otherworldly. Max Bemis has a skill with a pen that very few others can even come close to. Mix in self-loathing, over exaggerated metaphors, and descriptive visuals and you have IARB. It's really something to experience, the whole album will take you on a journey. He manages to paint a picture so clear into your mind that every song may as well be accompanied by a vivid animated video. The song Alive With The Glory Of Love, which was the first single off this album in particular showcases how well he is able to write a song. Music aside (which again is close to perfect on this song) this song's lyrics alone propel this album from just another indie-rock/emo album to something untouchable. Somehow writing a song about the Holocaust and WWII without sounding preachy or sappy. It's a bitter love song that if after listening to it doesn't make you feel something, you may be a sociopath.
The album ends with one of the best anti-hipster songs ever written. Mind you this is all in 2004 before the term 'hipster' was even common place, and Max Bemis is attacking the whole scene with the acerbic Admit It!!! Talking about how the people who consider themselves intellectuals and superior to everyone else, who attack people for being 'normal', are just as bad as the people they disdain. Even he, himself, is not safe from the onslaught, addressing how vain he can be about his endeavors and his appearance. It's really just the perfect end to the album, and the song just feels so big. This whole album was originally conceived as a rock opera and while I'm glad it didn't turn out that way, you can easily hear it in the songs.
When it comes to the whole post-hardcore/indie-rock thing that was going on in the early 2000's it's hard to find a better album than ...IS A Real Boy. Chaotic rock sound mixed with biting over the top lyrics full of angst and satire. This album just sounds large, like something that was done as a collaboration of several bands over years, not an album that was pretty much written by a single person. It's ambitious and it works. It really gave other artists something to strive for. It's an album that even people who don't listen to the band or even the genre know and respect. It's not shocking at all that the 10th anniversary tour sold out within minutes. This album is something beyond itself.