The Maine – ‘You Are Ok’

By Yasmin Brown

Following the huge success of their 2017 album ‘Lovely Little Lonely’, The Maine had a lot to live up to when it came to the calibre of their next full-length release. This record carried the band through a year and a half of their career, ending with a ‘funeral’ show in October of last year to mark the end of the era.

With that in mind, the relief that spread throughout the fanbase upon the release of the first single, ‘Numb Without You’ from new album ‘You Are Ok’, was tangible. The song was immediately considered a masterpiece, and quite rightly so.

Even better news, though, is that the rest of the album follows suit, with every track offering something new in terms of messaging and musical content and each one being incredible in its own right. But more than that, it has been stated by the band that this album is specifically ‘for you’ – the fans, making it all the more special. If that’s even possible.

The record starts with a deep intake of breath, a seemingly intentional break in the silence that followed the funeral of ‘Lovely Little Lonely’, and reflective of the kind of inhalation you might take before saying something important. What follows this breath are strings, synths, electric and acoustic guitars, all magically combined to create something truly mind blowing.

Even front man John O’Callaghan’s voice acts as its own instrument, adding depth and intrigue to each track as opposed to simply acting as a tool with which to deliver the lyrics. Whether it’s the drawn out vocals that see each word rolling into the next without pause as in ‘Slip the Noose’, or the bouncy staccato utterances that we’re treated to in ‘One Sunset’, O’Callaghan’s voice never once falters.

While sonically it is outstanding, the messaging in ‘You Are Ok’ seems to be the most important factor here. The record fills you with love, encourages self-care, convinces you that ‘forever’ is not just a pipe dream, and ensures you that it’s really okay to not be okay. The underlying message seems to be that we’re all together in our brokenness, and somehow this is everything we needed to hear.

Aside from unwavering thematic and lyrical brilliance, there are countless highlights throughout the 10 track record. The long, instrumental outro in ‘Heaven, We’re Already Here’ gives you much needed time to reflect on everything you’ve just heard, and ‘Tears Won’t Cry’ is perfectly sultry and cool with it’s more indie-rock inspired vibe.

O’Callaghan once tweeted that he’s a sucker for a song sung by some sad bastard on an acoustic guitar, and in ‘Forevermore’, he seamlessly became the very thing he adores. Conversely, ‘Broken Parts’ is void of anything acoustic, making use of synths and vocoders in a way that somehow feels entirely fresh and new; a definite stand-out moment towards the tail end of the album.

What really solidifies this band’s talent, is closing track ‘Flowers on the Grave’. If you paid no attention to the length of this song, you would never guess that it was close to 10 minutes long – even as it ends, you’re hoping there’s more.

Closing with the repetition of one line, “I was on the verge of breaking down / then you came around”, you are reminded of who they’ve dedicated this album to, and quickly realise there is no greater love story than the one between The Maine and their fans.

This band is 12 years into their career, and while many bands that started off in the same pop-punk scene have grown stale and failed to grow with the music industry, The Maine have aged with grace, adapting as necessary but maintaining authenticity and – most importantly – still making music that you cannot help but adore. The record is filled with positivity without ignoring the tougher parts of life, making it feel raw yet inspiring. ‘You Are Ok’ is as close to perfect as you can hope to find.

YASMIN BROWN

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