Review Summary: Wheel, Snipe, Celly, Boys!!
Going to have to come out of retirement for this one. just try and stop me, cowards. I’ve got some stuff to talk about, folks. Going to have to walk myself through this though, I don’t think I’ve produced anything in maybe a couple years that was longer than 40 words or so.
I’m annoying the *** out of a wide array of my acquaintances and probably many customers at my restaurant on account of my recent uptick in my ability to feel stuff and the resulting compulsion to sing loudly and subject my environment to the type of noise most wouldn’t consider befitting of a massive, bearded 24 year old who’s supposed to “managing a restaurant” or “maintaining emotional control”.
I also feel strangely obligated to let everybody know just how great I think This record is. And their last one too. I used Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop to help myself learn basic guitar chords. I showed pioneer to my indie friend in high school and made him like it so we didn’t have to listen to Mîįkë Snõw or Bombay Bicycle Ass so much. I have been known to exhibit “fanboy” behavior for everyone from Mayday Parade (I would like to talk about this) to I don’t know like Hank Snow or Venetian snares, but folks my thing for the Maine is stuck somewhere up inside me where the sun is not shining right now. If you’re into it like I am, this *** is great. Honestly, it’s probably exactly what you wanted, and that’s good! If you’re not into it, I won’t try and convince you that you should be into it, but I’m still gonna tell you how I feel about it, because that’s just the kinda guy I am.
Anyways, what’s not to love about a band that becomes more and more themselves with each release? You Are Ok is, yes, just another The Maine record but that’s the best thing about it. They build on their last record with each new release, going back to when they were a band fetus. The Maine are still very much the same fetus they were in 2008, but they’re way better now. I guess you could say that they’re older or more grown up or something but that’s stupid because of course they are; I am too. However, even if they’re more grown up and come out of my brain smarter I’m still feeling the same feelings I was in 8th grade.
For anyone who likes pop music, everything on You Are OK should be familiar. It’s why we like pop music - accessible comfort. However The Maine kids pop music for the scene kids, the ones who used to straighten their hair and the kids who STAN Pat Kirch. It’s just as melodramatic as mainstream pop music, but has a more earnest quality to it that comes from a long standing relationship between the band and their fans, who still after ten years turn out to small clubs hours early just to meet them or just to get as close to the stage as possible. The Maine consistently deliver on their commitment to the folks who’ve helped their career with thoughtful new music, open ended communication and ever-better live shows.
You Are OK shows the Maine still on their steady climb. The first half of the album carries such a joyful energy that it forces the corners of your mouth up. Slip the Noose
begins the album with one of the band’s more dynamic tracks. One gets the sense that the building energy and quick pace won’t slow before the chorus arrives, which would generally be huge and full of energy, but it suddenly stops before John crawls forward, barely uttering “just slip the noose/untie the rope from my wrists....”, eventually trailing off. What comes after is that chorus we waited for, but it’s bouncy, not driving. It has what I can only describe as an “Imagine Dragons vibe" but it’s way better than that. It’s got like punch drunk energy or something.
Most of the tracks on You Are OK are dingers on the first listen, including the first two singles, which occupy the 2 and 3 slots on the album, something we probably could have guessed. My Best Habit
is one of the most fun songs the Maine have ever released. Numb Without You
is a perfect reflection of their sharpened sound. I Feel It All Over
is, in my opinion, maybe the high point of the album. Some sort of nervous, nostalgic anxiety builds through the first three tracks and into the entrancing bridge that begins the fourth. I had butterflies in my stomach when I finally had my first listen. The anxiety builds as you don’t get the chorus you want when it’s expected, but you wait thirty more seconds and it hits and you really do, and apologize for this, folks, Feel it All Over
. This *** actually beamed a ***ing grin right onto my dumb ass face. Of course it was the warmest day since Fall when this album came out.
Now I’m not trying to pass the latter half of the album off as bad, it certainly is not, but the euphoria started to fade as soon as Forevermore
began. Maybe it’s because I pulled into the Wendy’s drive thru and had to turn the music down, but it really feels like a track that divides the album in two. The two halves not being totally dissimilar, only different spaces occupied by the same band. The atmosphere itself changes with Forevermore. The guitars and John's voice is more resonant and the melodies put up a cooler facade. A new energy permeates the record, but the songs remain ones that feel not quite usual, but comfortable nonetheless. On The third single, Broken Parts
, the band describes themselves as being “at their weirdest”. One can see what they mean, but from a fan’s perspective, nothing feels strange. If anything, Broken Parts
is the song most familiar with the tendencies of contemporary mainstream pop music, however, the handwritten intimacy that pervades the Maine’s music places it firmly in a different area of the genre.
Unfortunately, the track I enjoyed the least was the last and longest one. Flowers On The Grave
felt almost too familiar to me, without the excitement or grandiosity that would usually hook me for all eight minutes. When bands that make this type of music, or something similar, choose to end an album with a uncharacteristically long song (Marianas trench and the wonder years are two examples), they generally take the form of a sprawling conclusion with multiple massive hooks from the record, effectively taking you for the ride all over again. While Flowers On The Grave certainly
uses elements found elsewhere on the record, it didn’t feel like exactly the sort of electric and theatrical summary I thought it might be.
But really, who am I to make that assertion? After finishing my review I somehow feel obligated to retract any of my less than positive insinuations about You Are OK. It’s possible that I should just go listen to the album a few more times and then I’ll “get” Flowers On The Grave
, but I’m going to do that anyways, whether or not I ever enjoy it as much as I’d like to. Maybe the Maine have gotten me so accustomed to getting exactly what I want that I’m just an ungrateful little (big) *** now. They can end the album however the hell they want at this point I’m pretty sure I’m still going to listen to whatever they put out. I feel like an asshole now.
Well there ya have it. You Are OK is some (reggae voice) good ***. Hit me right where I like it. If you’re (the Maine) reading this: hey nice job guys I liked it, and if you’re ever in Vermont I can show you the worlds tallest filing cabinet it’s pretty cool.