3 quick adjectives that summarize it all rather brilliantly.
Let me start by saying, the Arizona based pop/rock group’s last album titled American Candy will most likely go down as one of my favorite albums of this decade. I don’t bring this up too frequently due to the album’s fair share of spotty content, but as an album, it’s pure genius. Sure, it comes across as an A Typical punk (slightly emo)/rock record that you’ve heard surely countless times. But in their circumstance, each and every song is just incredibly infectious (especially their knack for doggone catchy choruses). Why bother bringing up this specific past? Well, for starters, just to show how much I truly anticipated the drop of this album. And secondly, because as many before me have already established, Lovely Little Lonely (The Maine’s 6th studio album) largely feels like a sequel, or perhaps B-Track, to their 2015 American Candy. Some might argue that they not only came away sounding like a carbon copy of their previous record, but they’ve done so in a gyppingly (*made up word alert*) small form as well (4 of the already short 12 tracks are interludes). For some, this might bend on the frustrating side, and perhaps make you feel the notion that this was a lazily or cheaply thrown together ordeal. I for one would disagree. In fact, I’d urge you to put aside such notions, because there is much going on in this lovely little album.
First off, let’s break the record down a bit. I feel it is in many ways a very simplistic journey that we are boarding, but a fascinating one nonetheless. It seems to be simply broken down in the following themes: Lovely, Little, and Lonely. Simple, isn’t it? But what is the great John O’Callaghan and Co. trying to describe for us? Well…life. It can be described in that way, can’t it? That’s what the boys at The Maine are trying to get across, at least. They open up with this slightly awakened feel; a feeling that seems to be describing the lovely side of life. In their career and personal journeys of life, you can see they have taken a step back and been in awe of the beauty and joy of it all. No songs better describe that then the wonder-filled Won’t Come Down (one of my favorites…I’m seriously addicted) and Black Butterflies and Déjà Vu. In these songs, they present two specific scenes of feeling this wonder when approaching a beautiful and lovely moment, one that life gives plentifully. While the fun and nonstop Bad Behavior does the same, it does so by glorifying said behavior (and influences) a bit too much. In fact, it is the only song on the record that I’d caution entirely to the listeners, due to its rambunctious and sensual nature (what with “you like the sound of cigarette’s after sex…” kicking off each chorus. Also, Do You Remember? (The Other Half of 23) briefly mentions getting stoned). With that aside, however, this album kicks off and has threads of the beauty of life scattered throughout. But it’s actually in those threads that we see the next stages, and the overall feel of the album, revealed to us…
You see, while American Candy did have an overall feel of youthful relationships, meeting social criticisms throughout, Lovely Little Lonely has taken the idea of scenery and cohesion to a whole new level. This entire album seems to be these young men (about the age of 28-30) starting to see how truly quick this beautiful life is, and how harsh the realities of it all resonate. In that sense, we see the ideas of Little and Lonely come to the surface. And as I said, while the boys still show off their fun, mad guitar, and pop skills, they have toned it down to paint a picture of nostalgia. In Taxi, we see a couple coping with how life truly feels growing up, and asking the somber question, “is the sadness everlasting? …Love, I think it is.” (This song says “feels like h***”, and the track Little has a hardly perceptible S word in the background). In perhaps my favorite song, The Sound of Reverie (which admittedly, has very similar instrumentation to English Girls), we see this all come to fruition as they realize that, “It can be bittersweet, cause we’re no longer seventeen…” This idea of life being so lonely and little really hits. It leaves them to think in the very next track, “don’t you get lost in nostalgia?” in (might I add) a perfectly executed dreary and electric melody.
That’s what these fellows are facing, the end of their 20’s, and it’s starting to hit. Many musicians over the last few years (Twenty One Pilots and Bastille among many) have been dealing with and battling growing older and nostalgia quite frequently. I suppose in spite of that (or because of), I myself can’t help but be drawn to this theme and feeling as well. Personally speaking (while being slightly younger), this just seems to be the age for it. It hits. It hurts. It leaves you pondering. And yet, that can be a great, great thing. While The Maine stop short of responding by putting their lives into the hands of Him who can make life truly lovely, they do still realize life is oh too little to waste. In The Sound of Reverie, they determine to revel and bask in all the beauty (describing it as dancing in it). In Only Want to Talk to You and Taxi, they make it their priority to live life with the ones who count. And in the upbeat yet somber conclusion (How Do You Feel?), they ask are you actually making the most of your life, or just squandering it?
I can’t help but feel this is a proper response. Life is so lovely, isn’t it? We can agree to that. They are not denying its beauty nor it’s marvel, they are just observing its swift and hurt. How in the flash of an eye you can lose what means so much to you, what you thought would last forever, and what will surely pass. It’s this nostalgic tone that is felt pristinely throughout. Yes, in such songs as Sound of Reverie, Do You Remember? (The Other Half Of 23), and Bad Behavior show fantastic guitar chops (with O’Callaghan’s fantastically and oddly East-Coasted accent to boot), and Won’t Come Down is likewise particularly catchy. Still, they maintain a somber thread. The whole album is drenched in this fascinating feeling that can be heard from start to finish (particularly in the perfectly transitional interludes). So, while this is a rather little record (and one bogged down by a couple of content issues), it still has such creative direction and concern, that ultimately gives way to a truly lovely and moving experience. Check out Lovely Little Lonely.
8/10 (cut out the negative content, and we’re seriously knocking on a 10)