The Maine – Forever Halloween
Record Label: Eighty One Twenty Three
Release Date: June 4th 2013
Arizona pop-rock turned alternative rock band The Maine is one that I’ve been listening to for quite some time; I got into them shortly after they released their first EP The Way We Talk on Fearless Records in 2007. At the time, they were a rather lighthearted and quirky pop-rock band that didn’t stray too far from bands like All Time Low, We Are the In Crowd, We the Kings, and bands like that. After debut record Can’t Stop Won’t Stop (which was rather catchy, but forgettable pop-rock), the band switched to a major label and released Black and White, was added some alternative rock and alternative country sounds to the band’s arsenal as well. For the most part, it was still generic pop-rock, but some potential was there. 2011’s Pioneer was ultimately the record that showed them in a new light. This record had a lot of mixed reactions, and I didn’t quite enjoy it myself. It was different, and that’s great, but it just didn’t tickle my fancy well enough. The band went from pop-rock to straight forward alternative rock with alternative country mixed in. The same sounds still live on in fourth record, and second independently released record, Forever Halloween, but it’s more much refined. At this point, the band does seem to know what they’re doing with this sound. If anything, though, Forever Halloween is a very stark contrast from the very light and breezy Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. If you told me that this band would release a record like Forever Halloween back in 2008, I would’ve told you that you’re insane, but the band has grown up a lot, which is really cool. One reason why it’s so contrasting is just because Forever Halloween is so depressing and sad. Vocalist John O’Callaghan’s lyrics on this record are much more honest and somber. It’s like he isn’t appealing to teenagers anymore, but rather, the 20-somethings who have grown up with him and the band, like myself. It’s a nice change to pace, and even though it took some time to adjust to, Forever Halloween is a nice record. Now that they’re finally on their feet, after their label troubles, they can truly show what they’re made of, and to some degree, they really do.
The record begins with “Take What You Can Carry,” and right from the start, this track is what The Maine’s new sound is really all about. Handclaps and a breezy guitar riff start the song off, and lyrical allusions to Biblical figures Joseph and Mary take control of the record, so to speak. Despite being a rather depressing record, a lot of songs do have a very breezy and carefree sound, such as “Take What You Can Carry.” Forever Halloween seems to fluctuate between a few different sounds, per se. Songs like the opening track, second track “Love and Drugs,” and fifth track “Happy” are very breezy and light, despite their depressing and dark lyrics and imagery. On the other hand, there are songs like fourth track “White Walls,” sixth track “Birthday In Los Angeles,” and the last two tracks “These Four Words” and the title track all have a very somber piano driven sound to them. That’s what the Maine knows best. They can switch between these two sounds with quite ease. There’s a nice sense of direction on this record, and despite switching from those two sounds, the songs do come out nicely, and in turn, the record flows quite nicely together. It’s a very entertaining and fun listen throughout, despite the very depressing lyrics.
As I mentioned earlier, O’Callaghan’s lyrics are a lot more honest and sad here. A song like “Happy” isn’t happy at all, it’s about wanting to feel happy, and never feeling it. It’s a song that a lot of people can truly relate to, and most of these are songs that people can relate to. Back when they first started, the Maine’s lyrics were focused on cheesy relationship stuff, and over the last six years, they’ve really grown, and they’re no longer the next Hot Topic band, but rather, an indie / alternative rock powerhouse. Most fans of this band, like myself, are most likely in their late teens, early 20s, so this kind of growth is really cool to see. While I wasn’t a fan of 2011’s Pioneer, they’ve refined their sound this time around. Clocking in at around 44 minutes, there are some songs that do just fade into the background, such as seventh track “Blood Red,” despite O’Callaghan’s really cool vocal delivery, eighth track “Kennedy Curse,” and tenth track “F**ked Up Kids.” These songs didn’t do much for me, and ultimately, just fell to the wayside to make room for the tracks that really do stick out to me, which are most of them. Ultimately, while this band has kind of grown away from me, this record is the catalyst that’s brought me back in.
I really love this album! It might be my favourite one by them and the lyrics are a lot more honest and relatable than they are on their first album. John's voice has matured a lot and I love all of the cool guitar riffs. Great review!