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Album Reviews, Music

Album Review: The Maine – “You Are Ok”

By: Kirstin Bews




The Maine - "You Are Ok"The ever-evolving band, The Maine, have just come out with their newest album, You Are Ok, via 8123. The Maine are untouchable when it comes to sound, constantly reinventing with each release. Their genre-hopping covers pop, emo, indie-rock, pop-rock and alternative soundscapes. In 2017 they turned around on their mainstream pop-rock with Lovely Little Lonelythat drew on the band’s earthy and rustic undertones. You Are Ok only pushes the boundaries on this new-found sonic ground. And while lead singer, John O’Callaghan expresses the impossibility of describing You Are Ok’s sound, the listener nevertheless can clearly hear that this album treads on personal and emotive ground that pulls on The Maine’s pop-rock roots.  While the album’s singles ‘Numb Without You’ and ‘My Best Habit’ are both strong enough to stand on their own, this album is best appreciated when listening to the tracks collectively.

You Are Ok opens with ‘Slip the Noose’, a harmonic start  that bleeds into a heavier rhythm. The guitar riff that rips through the melody sounds as urgent as the lyrics would have you believe – “I was on the verge of breaking down then you came around and not a second too late”. Starting with this track projects the cascade of misunderstood love songs to follow. Focusing on bringing the good from the bad, You Are Ok, even covers joyous one nighters with ‘I Feel It All Over’ and ‘Tears Won’t Cry’, where O’Callaghan is expressively “borrowing happiness just for the night”.  

The first single, ‘Numb Without You’, is loud in sound and in theory. O’Callaghan sings about feeling numb after losing someone and visualises the loss with vivid imagery. The chorus describes, that “you are the violence inside my veins, you are the war inside my brain”. The extremity of feeling doesn’t change as he sings “you are my glitter and my gloom” depicting both the good and the bad emotions that come with relationships. The chorus ends on the re-iteration of “I’m so numb without you”, and O’Callaghan won’t surrender and he’ll wait until the end of time for the numbness to fade. The music video consists of the band members standing in front of a white wall that is projected with solid colours and the lyrics to the track. The projection stands as the feeling, where the white wall represents the numbness.

 The visual concept for ‘My Best Habit’ is similar to ‘Numb Without You’ as the music video uses projection to get the point across. This is fitting given how to the point the song is – “my best habit’s letting you down”. Sitting on the track list at number two, ‘My Best Habit’, despite the self-berating lyrics, is upbeat with an emphasis on pop. Pessimism, that O’Callaghan often leans on, is only touched on in this track, leaving the rest of the album to radiate feelings of positivity from others. The synth notes throughout the track call on a sound reminiscent to Imagine Dragons.

‘Flowers On The Grave’ encapsulates the album giving it a well-rounded finish, as to be expected when ending an album with a number that is almost 10 minutes long. The chorus is a self-reflective melody where O’Callaghan explains that there are “flowers on the grave of the child I used to be” and the reassurance that “everything is temporary, even the sorrow you carry”. This song represents a moment of self-reflection before personal growth. Half way through lengthy a drum beat and string melody kicks in where eventually an echo erupts into “I was on the verge of breaking down then you came around”, a repetition from the opening track ‘Slip the Noose’, which brings You Are Ok full circle.

As a whole, You Are Ok, shows the expansive reach of The Maine’s talent. The past 12 years, landmarked by seven very different albums shows a journey that not many musicians can ride along with. This is the evolution of pop-rock and The Maine are coming out on the top.

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