The Maine traverse exciting new territories on their latest album ‘You Are OK’, Redbrick Music Writer Ellie Jeffery reviews
The Maine continue their impressive track record of albums with 2019’s You Are OK, a follow-up to 2017’s Lovely Little Lonely, marking another shift in sound and tone for the band. Although evidence of their previous allegiance to the pop-punk genre is clear in the songs ‘Slip The Noose’ and ‘One Sunset’, even these tunes suggest the growing influence of anthemic pop on their sound, with swelling vocals and inspirational lyrics. John O’Callaghan’s impressive vocals are put to good use over the course of the album, backed up by the multi-instrumental talents of the other four boys.
The lead singles of the album were all impressive in their own right, but by no means are the best tracks of the collection. ‘Numb Without You’ was released all the way back in January, doing the job of teasing the upcoming album to us, and providing a sound reminiscent of their 2014 album Forever Halloween. Although this may have been to satiate their fan base, and to reassure the listener that they are the same band that they have always been, the track also betrays their growing maturity as they mark 11 years since their first album. ‘Numb Without You’ is by no means the strongest track on the album, but their second single ‘My Best Habit’, to me, represents the true message of the album.
The sadness of the lyrics, speaking about self-doubt and being, to quote the song directly, ‘Ain’t what you’re looking for’, truly reflect the title, with the contrast of the lyrics to the happy, upbeat music suggesting a hopefulness in this negativity. The third and final single, ‘Broken Parts’ is a follow up to this hopefulness, embracing the fragility of the human self in a way that speaks to the soul. It seems to truly say, ‘You Are OK‘.
These songs all seem to oppose categorisation, but the anthemic sounds of ‘Heaven We’re Already Here’ and ‘Flowers On The Grave’, the latter being the closing track of the album, are particularly poignant. The former song speaks about escape, loving life and living it to the fullest, and finding things worth dying for. Considering the message of this song, ‘Flowers On The Grave’ seems like a natural close, celebrating the death of childhood, and, once again, living life and allowing it to take you in the directions it needs to.
For a band on a self-run, independent label, it has never been more important to support them with streams and purchases. The quality of their music and the messages behind their songs never fails to astound me, especially when they lack the big label backing that so many bands have today. When they’re capable of creating amazing songs that speak directly to their devoted fan base (which I count myself amongst), it is truly a triumph for the small business music industry. Not only are The Maine amazing musicians, but they are also role models in their determination, talent, and loyalty to their fans. You Are OK is an album that will never break into the British mainstream, but it is well worth a listen to current fans and new listeners alike.
‘You Are OK’ is available now via 8123. Tickets to see The Maine perform live are available here.