REVIEW: The Maine demonstrate vulnerability and growth in new album

Photo: Youtube

John O’Callahan, Jared Monaco, Garrett Nickelsen, Kennedy Brock, and Pat Kirch make up Alternative outfit, The Maine. Formed in Tempe, Arizona, this quintet has entered yet another new era of music. XOXO: From Love & Anxiety In Real Time is the band's eighth studio album that was released on July 9th, 2021 through Photo Finish Records and the iconic 8123.

This album encompasses any and every emotion that we may feel. The messages within the album pair perfectly around the lockdowns and uncertainties of the real-time we are living in. Love comes in many forms, but it isn’t going to solve all problems and insecurities that we are faced with. The band somehow managed to tap into their most vulnerable selves to create a compilation that ranks towards the top as their best material.

Kicking off the record is leading single, “Sticky.” The song conveys a new beginning of lust and optimism that we are presented with in life. The upbeat, melodic tune gave off a hint of American Candy, released in 2015. The intro brings an intoxicating guitar riff that follows a strong percussion courtesy of Pat, which will surely have you tapping your feet. Once the chorus hits, this tune will definitely be “Sticky” on your brain.

Following up is “Lips.” This track mirrors “Sticky” with captivity and a catchy guitar riff to start things off. This track tugs at the heartstrings due to its nostalgic feel. These elements naturally make this track a fan favorite.

“Love In Real Time” gives off an 80’s synth-pop vibe that the Arizona-based quintet pulled off seamlessly. Monaco kicks off the track with a killer bass line that sets the stage for its atmospheric feel. Although this track is short, it ties together the thought of living, for now, making the best of every experience that presents itself in the future.

The fourth track on this record took a slightly different spin than what we usually hear from The Maine. “High Forever” seemed to be rather repetitive, lacked substance, but still ended up being a killer track. Thumping percussions paired with Monaco's guitar carries out the bold formation that the band establishes.

“April 7th,” the third single off of XOXO: From Love & Anxiety In Real Time. encompassed emotions of lust, love, and new beginnings that wrapped around soft guitar riffs and rhythmic percussion. The lyrics “And I said when I’m with you, well, it’s just like it’s the first time. April 7th never meant as much as that night” conveys the beauty of a new forming connection.

Vocals accompanied by a faint, rhythmic beat infect your brain that will cause faint body movement to only increase in the chorus. The underlying nuances of “If Your Light Goes Out” are being with someone who struggles from time to time. Everyone need’s a shoulder to lean on, and the message being the reality mental health plays on us all.

Coming in next on the record is “Pretender”. This was the band's fourth and final single that was released up until the LP release date. The bright, robust instrumentals make this track one that’s easy to listen to. “You are an ocean, strong but delicate, it doesn’t matter where you run” underlines that underneath all the things weighing you down, you’re still in control. The message here is to always be authentic to yourself to allow people in.

"Dirty, Pretty, Beautiful"

Coming in soft, O’Callahan's monotone vocal stylings emerge next to a descending guitar riff come together for a well-rounded track. There are underlying components of authenticity that make us all dirty, pretty, beautiful.

Introduced by an ominous, low beat, this track demonstrates the constant battle between mind, body, and the world around us. There is a dark place that is traveled more than some, O’Callahan assures the listener “I know, I know, that this is all in my head.” The juxtaposition in the chorus brings self-awareness to the listener that tells them they’ve been here before and there is hope ahead.

Closing out the record is “Face Toward the Sun”. Muffled in the background, a voice says “After I’m gone, your earth will be free to live out its miserable span of existence.” This gives off a cruel world feel, reminding the listener that everything is temporary; good or bad. The perfect closing track that ties together every single component that is “XOXO: From Love & Anxiety In Real Time”.