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  • Tessa Brainard

Album Review: "The Maine" - The Maine



After nine albums and 16 years together as a band, Arizona pop-punk legends, The Maine, still have yet to release an album that disappoints. As a born and raised Arizonan, I love to support a band like The Maine who pour their hearts into their work and proudly call Arizona home. Like me, The Maine puts their roots into everything they do, and their ninth album is no exception. Despite traveling the world and playing to crowds of thousands for nearly two decades, this self-titled album is reflective of the band’s journey since their humble beginnings as teenagers.


Track List:

dose. no 2 how to exit a room blame leave in five the mood i'm in/jsyk

i think about you all the time

thoughts i have while lying in bed

funny how?

cars & caution signs spiraling


The Maine are a self-described "Arizona emo group" out of Tempe, Arizona. Since 2007, the band has been making a name for themselves in the pop-punk world. As teenagers, the group (comprised of lead singer John O'Callaghan, drummer Pat Kirch, lead guitarist Jared Monaco, bass player Garret Nickelsen, and rhythm guitarist Kennedy Brock) would hang out in a parking garage on Hardy Drive in Tempe. According to legend, the highest story of this garage overlooked a business with the number "8123" on the side. Since then, The Maine have featured this number in work throughout their career ever since. Under their record label, aptly named 8123 Records, their self-titled album was released on August 1, 2023 (8/1/23), at a once-in-a-century event in Dever, Colorado to fans screaming "8123 means everything to me!"


Photo Credit: Guadalupe Bustos


dose no. 2

The album begins with “dose no. 2”, an electrifying track that describes the rush in your veins as you chase the high of falling in love with someone new. This song is filled with pulsing drum beats and invigorating guitars, complemented by John O's captivating vocals. This song is the perfect intro to the album, fit with the signature “The Maine sound,” of upbeat instrumentals and rich vocal work. For fans (or future fans!) of The Maine, this song is somewhat reminiscent of “Don’t Come Down” from their 2017 album Lovely Little Lonely, referencing the song in part of the chorus.


how to exit a room

As the lead single from The Maine, “how to exit a room” describes the ache of an imperfect night out. Without losing any of the energy from the first track, this song is filled with a thrumming baseline from the very start that pulls the listener in. John O’ describes the anxiety that comes from feeling forced to fake a smile and the quelling relief of finding someone to share it with. As the song progresses, we hear John O' struggling to accept his fame and his desire to live a life unwasted. Relatable and catchy, this song is the perfect antidote for anyone feeling uneasy about their place in the world.


blame

The second single from The Maine, “blame” is a frenetic, synth-driven track that describes being given blame by someone refusing to take accountability. Starting out fast and strong, the song feels artfully messy until its hits the more polished chorus. John O’ relates to the person blaming him for a situation beyond his control, understanding their struggles and that “it’s easier if I’m the one you blame.” Additionally, he gives voice to those who have been forced to confront an issue they have no control over. Overall, this track is both fun and cathartic for anyone who listens.


leave In five

“leave in five” is a funky pop-rock anthem complete with a groovy baseline and steel guitars. This song sounds like a track straight off the dance floor of a house party, mirrorballs and all. This track invites listeners to get “lost in the lights,” and takes me back to dancing alone in a crowded room during the after-party of The Maine’s biennial 8123 Festival back in 2022. Despite going by myself, I never felt alone, and “leave in five” is the perfect track to have a “main character moment” to while surrounded by other fans doing the same.


the mood i’m in/jsyk

The album slows down with “the mood i’m in/jsyk,” a brooding, reflective ballad that describes the daily struggles that keep us up at night. John O's fears and anxieties are put on full display in this track. With the introspective lyrics, “If I’ve been unapproachable, or I seem too emotional / Life has been a roller coaster … / I’ve been avoiding bullshit confrontational conversations / So if I forgot to say hello / It’s just the mood I’m in.” For anyone in a state of heavy transition or personal struggles, this track speaks volumes.


i think about you all the time

Beginning the back half of the album, “i think about you all the time” picks up the pace once again. Lamenting about the sweet torture of thinking about someone a little too much, this song is perfect for anyone pining over a potential lover or ex-lover. The rambling drums and desperate guitars perfectly encapsulate the restless, dizzying experience of unrequited love, felt by someone addicted to the pain.


thoughts i have while lying in bed

“thoughts i have while lying in bed” follows the same formula. Describing his lover’s presence as a drug, John O’ explores the joy and anxieties of finding true love. We have all stayed up and analyzed every interaction we’ve had with a new lover trying to find the trap door that must inevitably exist, only to find that there is none. After having your guard up for so long, the thought of letting it down is terrifying, but so worth it. We are forced to look at ourselves and be brave enough to accept everything we’ve ever wanted, even if it seems too good to be true. This is perfectly encapsulated in the lyrics, “Starin’ at the ceiling and I’m burnin’ up / I’m lookin’ for a reason you ain’t good enough / Now I’m in a feelin’ and it’s like a drug / Oh, I’m high off your love… / You’re the missing pieces I’ve been dreamin’ of.”


funny how?

“funny how?” is a nostalgia-fueled anthem penned by John O' to his daughter. Featuring her heartbeat at the end of the track, he promises her that he will always be there for her. This song also reflects John O’s journey from a teenager to an adult and how incredible it has been so far. He looks back on how quickly time has gone by and how it cannot last forever. With his softened vocals paired with a tender instrumental section, this song is sure to tug at the heartstrings.


cars & caution signs

“cars & caution signs” is an 80s synth-pop classic perfect for a night drive. This song is thrumming with the feeling that anything is possible. This song ties a rope to the listener’s chest and pulls them forward into the moment, encouraging them to “forget the future, forget the past.” With simple lyrics and compelling instrumentals, this song leads perfectly into the end of the album as it repeats the question, “Are we there yet?”


spiraling

As the closing track of the album, “spiraling” is sultry in a way that is similar to “leave in five.” Beginning immediately with John O’s smooth vocals, the song progresses into a dreamy pop-rock anthem. Following the album's overarching theme of being intoxicated by love, this song feels like the slow head rush after a night of drinking with friends. This track perfectly bookends the album while leaving the listener hungry for more. Deviating from the band’s typical sound, “spiraling” is the prime example of the band’s maturity and fearlessness. As they have evolved, they have been able to take more and more risks with their work. With “spiraling,” it is clear that they have paid off.


The Maine is a moody, seductive album that has a track for every situation. It feels like a walk home from a night out with friends and a drive through your hometown. It is the perfect blend of future possibilities and chilling nostalgia that The Maine is known for. Even with nine albums under their belt, The Maine continues to raise the bar for themselves, sailing over it every time. They have come a long way since the parking garage they started in, but it’s obvious why 8123 means everything to me.


Written By Tessa Brainard



*copyright not intended. Fair use act, section 107.

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