Album Review: The Maine- You Are Ok
How do I begin to describe The Maine? They’re a band that are pretty much universally loved throughout the scene. And even if you don’t like their music, I’m sure you’d be hard pressed to find something negative to say about them. They’re unproblematic, and their music reflects that. It reflects on being human, exploring, celebrating and embracing our differences and their newest release, ‘You Are OK’ follows much the same trend.
The album begins with ‘Slip the Noose’, and right off the bat we have orchestral rock & pop. Very sweet, bubblegum processed pop, and it could almost be a nod to ‘American Candy’. The chorus is certainly very interesting, it sounds very echoey, as though it’s coming from somewhere far away, and the hook is infectiously catchy. I was worried before I listened to this album, but from the first note, I knew I had nothing to be worried about. This opening track is a summer time anthem. The guitars are just great, they’re blended together flawlessly, with sweet processed pop and heavier rock. My only criticism of this first song is that it’s a tad too long.
We move swiftly onto ‘My Best Habit’. When I first heard this single, this was what really got me excited for this record. This song is a plea to stop looking for the next big moment, to stop looking for the greener grass and better pastures. This is my favourite track off the album and I’m sure that I’ll be playing it on repeat for months, probably. It’s almost a scathing track about expecting too much of our lead singer, and that he’ll only continue to let you down. It’s a celebration in being human, all of the messy parts and all of the hurt.
‘Numb Without You’ was the first single the band released before the album release, and even though I liked it, I wasn’t in love with it. On a second listen, it’s still a fun song, but I wouldn’t say it’s something to write home about. It’s dramatic electronic pop. And I would say that it reminds me of Last Young Renegade, but I won’t, because The Maine don’t impersonate other bands. They are wholly unique and their sound cannot be replicated because they’re one of a kind.
It might be a obvious thing to point out, but even the choice of track listing on this record tells a story, as it starts off with optimistically hopeful song titles, but slowly descend to darker names, finally ending with ‘Flowers on the Grave.’
Skipping forward to ‘Tears Won’t Cry’, we hear an energetic bass line. It’s a very peppy song. When the song first started, I thought it would be something along the lines of ‘American Girls’, a simple song about enjoying the company of others (and yes, I know the song is about one night stands, but this is a more delicate way of putting it). But, The Maine show quickly that emotionally, they’re not the same band that released ‘American Girls’. This is an empowering song about forgetting your worries for a night (‘We’ll borrow happiness for a night’). It sounds almost Paramore-esque. Though the end of the song is definitely heavier, more rock than pop, but it suits the tone of the song perfectly.
‘One Sunset’ opens with fast drums and guitars, opting for a sense of urgency. This is a sweet ode for the excitement of seeing someone and having ‘one more sun to set, then I’ll cross the sea for you.’ As someone who’s in a long distance relationship, this song really hit home for me. The song just perfectly encapsulates the excitement, the pure impatience of getting to see your significant other again, and there’s nothing more intoxicating than that excitement of seeing them again after months and months of waiting. It’s the best feeling in the world going to the airport.
‘Broken Parts’ is a play on how people say that it gets easier as you get older, a message also spread in Twenty One Pilots’ ‘Stressed Out’, and whilst The Maine aren’t the first band to spread this message, they’re perhaps to do it with poise and dignity. The most important thing about this album is its exploration of bitterness. But, more importantly, the sheer importance of feeling that bitterness. This album encourages you to feel your emotions, no matter how ugly they might seem. This is a beautiful song about how we’re all the same, we’re all broken and alone but–there’s still hope. And that’s the underlying message of this album. Hope. That it’s never too late to help yourself, and if you can’t help yourself, to find someone who can.
The record closes of the acoustic, mournful, ‘Flowers on the Grave’. I can’t really describe this track because it deserves to be listened to. It deserves to be heard. It’s not unassuming. It’s gentle and coaxing, an exploration of how life cannot be planned, it has to be lived. This song almost moved me to tears, and that might not sound like a big deal, but it is. I cry very rarely at films and TV shows, and music? It’s pretty much unheard of, but The Maine continue continue to make me blub; from the music video of ‘Am I Pretty’ to the lyricism of ‘How Do You Feel?’. The last part of the song is purely instrumentals, and it’s a perfect end to the album. It proves that you don’t always have to say something.
This is an album to blast on a starry summer night. This is an album to scream along to, in an open field or alone in your bedroom. This is an album that reminds you to live. To remind you that whatever’s haunting you, you are bigger than it. You’ve grown through hardship before and you’ll do it again. This album is catharsis incarnate. However, in terms of album growth, this is a natural progression from Lovely, Little, Lonely, as it takes all of those themes and expands on them and each album The Maine creates is wonderfully coherent. However, when it comes to songs that I enjoyed listening to more, Lovely, Little Lonely still takes the cake, though thematically, this is definitely a harder hitting album.