I have been a fan of The Maine for nearly a decade. Having picked up their first studio album Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop back in 2008 at a local record store in San Francisco, I can honestly say that they have never put out a bad album. The progression in style and sound with every new album is evident and as the band “grows up,” so do their fans.
Since 2008, they’ve released seven studio albums. Like most bands and artists from the Myspace, The Maine has constantly evolved their sound with every album. The word evolution alone within the world of music is very sensitive, since it usually plays out in one of two ways: either the band or artist changes their sound completely to keep up with the times, causing many of their original fans to feel alienated or they continue to go from genre to genre and increase their audience. However, for the Arizonian alternative/indie rock band The Maine, they would fall under the second scenario, as shown with their brand new album, You Are OK.
Having started with a pop-punk sound, the band has done an excellent job with transitioning and moving away from that sound with every album. You Are OK capitalizes the more alternative/indie sound and on the momentum built from the band’s two previous albums, American Candy and Lovely, Little, Lonely. Although this album seems like a continuation of American Candy, this album makes an impact with its poetic lyrics, the use of both EDM and orchestral strings, and making a statement that no one in the world is truly alone.
One of the reasons I grew to love The Maine is their ability to tell stories within their albums. Leading up to the album’s release, the band confessed that a lot of these songs deal with the rough experiences that they themselves had while going through life. This album tells the story of a person dealing with self-discovery, pain, and growth. Though there are some more light-hearted and upbeat songs, the overall theme of this album is that although life has its challenges, it can and will always get better.
Listen to You Are OK on Spotify. The Maine · Album · 2019 · 10 songs.
The opening song, “Slip the Noose,” seems to serve as a thank you to the individual or thing that got the band out of depression. They have left behind who they once were and have broken free from constraints. My favorite line from that song is “You shook the noose, slipped my head loose, and now that boy is history.” It emphasizes that the aspiration of being “OK.”
The second song, “My Best Habit,” serves as a sort of self-acceptance and description of what living life is like today. The line “One part anxiety using two parts naivety” gets to the point of how a person would describe themselves, focusing on the aspect of self-acceptance and honesty. “Numb Without You,” which was the first single from this album, gives the listeners a taste of what this new era would sound like.
“I Feel It All Over” seems to focus on the one thing that makes everything feel okay and holding on to it. “Heaven, We’re Already Here” is this album’s anthem. It talks about embracing new beginnings and leaving every negative thing in the past. With “Forevermore,” it focuses on the feelings that came from the previous song and wanting them to last forever. The acoustic sound provides a much more honest emotion. “Tears Won’t Cry (Shinjū),” which is definitely one of my favorite tracks from the album, is much more upbeat. It reminded me of songs from their earlier albums, like “Right Girl” and “My Heroine.” It shows that The Maine can be both profound storytellers and go back to their roots with ease. “One Sunset” brings out this sense of nostalgia for the singer’s true love through the comparison of London. “Broken Parts” talks about how all humans seem to be broken but not beyond repair. It brings this feeling of hopefulness that people will be “OK” one day.
Everything comes full circle with the final track, “Flowers on the Grave.” In the near 10 minute song, the band focuses on everything that their songs have said and asks us if we are “OK.” The overall messages of hope, resilience, and being okay with leaving things that drag us down behind are made more clear in this track. The line “And flowers on the grave / Of the child that I used to be” hit me right in the heart. It reinforces that who we were before isn’t who we are or who we will be. We will grow, and with growing up it’s up to us to reach the state where we can say “I am OK.”
Anyone can listen to this album regardless of what they are going through. It’s for the days when you feel happy, sad, angry, energetic, or when things seem dark and confusing. But overall, I’d say it’s a coming-of-age album that can remind anyone that they are not alone.
Thank you, John, Pat, Jared, Kennedy, and Garret for this incredible album.