If it wasn’t for my friend dragging me to a Q&A/short acoustic performance in the summer of 2013, I’d probably have never listened to The Maine. But since I was meeting them, I figured I’d get their then most recent album Forever Halloween and found that I did, in fact, like their music. That album in particular was darker than their previous stuff I would find, which I think may have been what appealed to me. Less than two weeks ago when The Maine released their follow up, American Candy, I figured there was no way I wasn’t going to get this album.
This time around, The Maine mostly go back to the less dark poppy alternative rock sound of their early albums, kind of like what a more modern Third Eye Blind would sound like. Unlike the early albums, however, it’s clear that John O’Callaghan and co. have done a great deal of maturing on American Candy. Opening track Miles Away is evident of all this. It’s upbeat and free, but with a bit of well hidden melancholy to it. It’s a great way to start the album, as it’s one of the finest tracks and it shows a separation from Forever Halloween. Not that there needed to be a separation from Forever Halloween.
Miles Away is followed by Same Suit, Different Tie which is another of the finest tracks on American Candy. Where Miles Away was more pop punk, Same Suit, Different Tie is more pop with a touch of indie rock to it, mostly thanks to the added keyboards. The Maine just continue to have fun while song writing with tracks like My Hair (a song literally about John’s hair) and English Girls (a very Third Eye Blind-esque song). Both songs seem simple, and maybe a little strange (particularly My Hair) on paper, but damn it if they aren’t catchy and fun songs. Along with Diet Soda Society, they make for a strong trend on the album that I don’t hear played confidently by many bands anymore.
The album isn’t all fun and games though. 24 Floors, which is perhaps my favourite song from American Candy, takes on emotions that I don’t think The Maine have ever explored. It’s not a ballad, but it is the most passionate song on American Candy. Am I Pretty? is an upbeat sounding song, but unlike the previously mentioned bunch, it takes on serious subject matter. Like many of the song titles on American Candy, I’m sure you can guess the topic of Am I Pretty?
(Un)Lost and American Candy‘s title track carry a bit of the serious and darker sound that Forever Halloween had while blending in the more poppy/less edgy sound of the other songs present on American Candy. American Candy in particular has a sullen and serious sound to its verses and even though the choruses of the song pick up more, there is still something very un-laid back about the song that make you realize they are not trying to have fun.
Another Night on Mars is exactly the kind of track I’d expect to hear at the end of an album, and that’s exactly where The Maine decided to place the song on American Candy. All thanks to its very catchy chorus that is repeated just enough times to not be considered too much while maintaining the free spirit that most songs on American Candy have. Even the verses of this particular song sound like the kind of song that a whole crowd of people can sing along with, which is why I feel this would make the perfect closer to both an album and a concert.
The Maine‘s target audience is mostly girls roughly between the ages of 15 and 25. I feel with Forever Halloween they tried to break away from that stereotype, but with American Candy they’ve accepted that they just want to make music as it feels right, no matter the audience. That is the reason I think The Maine have never sounded more comfortable than they do on American Candy, making it one of their finest efforts.
“Miles Away” – No matter what direction some of the songs on American Candy take, they all follow that line of fun upbeat melodies and tempos, and it all starts with Miles Away‘s pop punk chops. Not only does Miles Away start things off for American Candy’s more fun sound, it’s also the finest example of it.
8.5 (Out of 10)
|2.||“Same Suit, Different Tie”||3:18|
|6.||“Diet Soda Society”||3:00|
|7.||“Am I Pretty?”||3:02|
|10.||“Another Night on Mars”||4:26|