REVIEW: The Maine – ‘American Candy’

the maine

Artist: The Maine
Title: American Candy
Label: 81twentythree
Genre: Indie-Rock, Alternative

One of my music professors once asked me what I thought made a good record. Being the visceral musician, I told him that I hadn’t had coffee and that mumbling the theoretical jargon he wanted out of me would result in a completely skewed judgement of what I thought Jack Mannequin’s Everything In Transit was — the record I happened to have been enjoying that morning.

It’s 8pm and I’ve had about two cups today. I think I’ve found my answer.

I would’ve told him that The Maine’s American Candy fit quite well into this sonority. A good record is, first and foremost, made up of its history. Its predecessors are just as much a part of its success. In order for the band to have pulled back into the happy-go-lucky direction this effort went in, they must have first written Forever Halloween, the band’s darkest, most rustic-sounding record to date. They must have first written the three other records that placed them in the indie-rock, pop-rock, and alternative categories.

As soon as I got through “Miles Away,” I knew it was the beginning of a good chapter. Hearing frontman John O’Callaghan sing “I feel so alive” is already one of the most compelling statements, especially having come from “What does it take to be alive?” in Pioneer. The recurring theme of life and bliss puts things into perspective in terms of how much can change if we stick around long enough to watch.

A good record sets off a spark within a listener. “English Girls,” the first track they put out to signal the beginning of a new era, set off quite the fireworks display. It brought about all sorts feelings and opinions. Ranging from “The Maine? They’re still a thing?” to thousands of Twitter icons’ new blue tints and blown-up bubblegum feats. Resembling catchy ‘90s alt-rock like Third Eye Blind, the single had older fans welled up with nostalgia as they’re reminded of that one summer day they heard “Semi-Charmed Life” in ‘97, and younger fans gravitated towards the dynamic naturally.

A good record contains a soul; one that makes it come alive, one that makes everything that comes in contact with it feel alive. This, to me, is the very core of American Candy’s appeal. We find substance in virtually all twelve tracks. “(Un)lost” stands out lyrically with the resounding “So long as the blood keeps flowing, I’ll set a sail and swim across. I’m not looking to be found — just want to feel (un)lost.” It’s worth noting that this record is also laced with the catchiest one-liners that are guaranteed to be the first thing you get hooked on. Everything that builds up to the repeating “There’s beauty and grace in the flaws of your face” in “Am I Pretty?” is a compound of good melodic structure and instrumentation — something that The Maine thrive in naturally.

Every record they’ve put out contained a purple vein track. It’s one that identified with your heartaches and your losses. It was “Fucked Up Kids” and “Misery” then, it’s “24 Floors” now. As we dig deeper into the silver bullet, it becomes less difficult to marvel in the rough. We are then delivered to “Diet Soda.”

Although I do wish there were more of guitarist Jared Monaco’s solos and staple riffs that crawled into Pioneer and Black & White, there seems to be a surge of Blue-era Weezer sounds they’ve never utilized in the past. We find them in tracks like “Same Suit, Different Tie” and “My Hair.” This very fact made the record perfect for Springtime. Easy to digest, light, and breezy. An all-around jam.

One cannot deny how special it is that this band is capable of growing in the right direction continuously. “Another Night On Mars,” American Candy’s last track, starts to play and we’re back in 2008. We’re back in that friend’s house, cramped up, chugging beers. Except this time, we aren’t singing the words tattooed on vocalist John O’Callaghan’s chest. We’re singing a tribute to “We’ll All Be…,” the song that closed out their debut record. The familiar pub-like noises, the chorus sang by a crowd, the overlapping closing lines. We’re back home.

“All the nights in shitty bars,
And throwing up in taxi cars,
Or on our backs under the stars,
As we sing:

What’s another night on Mars?
With friends like ours,
Anywhere is home.”

SCORE: 9.5/10
Review written by Dana Reandelar

Dana Reandelar

If not hunched over her desk writing about music, Dana can be found binge-watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls or condensing long rants to 140 characters. She also writes for Idobi Radio, and is an Off The Record podcast contributor.
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