A Brief History of The Maine
The Maine will be releasing their fifth album in less than a week, and by the looks of things, it’s going to be another update on their ever-evolving sound. To get ready for the new album, here’s a quick rundown of The Maine’s past releases.
Stay Up and Get Down + The Way We Talk (2007): In the rain of pop/emo, soundtrack-to-a-freshmen highschooler’s-daydream music, The Maine’s first two EPs were drops in the bucket. Stay Up and Get Down contains laments of young love, raging teenage hormones (see, “Undressing the Words”), and in a special case, robotic vocals and proto-techno beats (“Give Me Everything”). After signing to Fearless Records and getting hooked up with a legitimate producer, the boys released “The Way We Talk”. Production value took a leap forward, strange computer-generated tracks were reworked, Akon was covered, and fans were made. Singer John O’Callaghan established a vocal that alternated between a languid, lackadaisical sound and a pop-punk vibe.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop + …And a Happy New Year (2008): For their first full-length effort, The Maine launched off by pumping up the energy levels and hitting the alt-pop genre full-force. Moving into new song-writing content, the boys handle thoughts of growing up in songs like, “We All Roll Along” and “We’ll All Be”. Revisiting old song writing content, the band revamped “Count ‘Em One, Two, Three” and remixed “The Way We Talk”. While not groundbreaking by any means, the first full length was a gleaming example of the scene that birthed them. The band released an unexpectedly delightful Christmas EP later in the year mixing humor (“Santa Stole My Girlfriend”) with touchingly sentimental holiday tracks (“Ho Ho Hopefully”).
Black and White (2010): After signing with Warner Bros. Records, the band released their second full-length Black and White. This album is a bit of a departure from Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, as they melded their style into a rock form. The name Black and White seems ironic because the album feels very much like a grey area. The Maine’s style was definitely shifting, but this album has them straddling the line without committing either way. However, with this album began the tradition of releasing tons of bonus material, collaborations, and artwork. The band released two photo books and a book of poetry featuring photographer Dirk Mai and poetry by John O’Callaghan. The Maine began their trademark of mainlining fans a look into their world as musicians and as people.
Pioneer + Good Love (2011-2012): This is where things got interesting. After being disappointed in their deal with Warner Bros. Records and having their new music rejected, The Maine decided to take a huge risk; they funded their own independent release of their third album, Pioneer. While the band had released numerous songs about feelings associated with growing up, Pioneer is when they grew up in reality. Pioneer is an album that reflects true growth as a band. The lyrics tackled issues like establishing one’s identity (“Identify”) and dealing with personal demons (“Misery”). New song structures popped up, and the catchy songs no longer identified as pop, but something transcendent of that. There’s craftsmanship and the vocals were more developed and stylized. It’s as if everything that came before were necessary stepping-stones to get them to this point as their true launching pad. The next year, they released the Good Love EP, which was a natural and welcome continuation of the content of Pioneer. The Maine was reborn and documented their shift with a mini-documentary entitled, “Anthem for a Dying Breed.”
Forever Halloween + Imaginary Numbers (2013): The Maine ran with their newfound independent spirit, forming their own management team, 8123. 8123 is a group effort involving musicians and friends of The Maine. The fourth album, Forever Halloween, was recorded live onto tape and released in 2013. Forever Halloween has a darker flavor than Pioneer, but the new style held true. Throughout the album, there are feelings of personal unhappiness and turmoil. This theme carried through to an EP released later in the year, Imaginary Numbers. Completely acoustic, this EP showcased O’Callaghan’s lyrics and added nuance to some of the bolder declarations of unhappiness from Forever Halloween. True growing up comes with a cost, and it seems O’Callaghan expressed that through Forever Halloween and Imaginary Numbers.
American Candy (2015): Toward the end of 2014, the band blacked out on all social media for a few months to record American Candy, which is to be released on March 31. In a video about the fifth album, O’Callaghan says, “I didn’t want things to be so heavy this time around…I wanted to keep things mostly light and groovy, if for nothing else for my psyche. I needed to be better. I needed to feel better. I’m definitely not the phony, bubblegum depiction of happiness they sell you, but I’m in a better place nonetheless.” Two singles, “English Girls” and “Miles Away” fall in line with this thinking, as The Maine once again shoot off in another direction, delving back into pop rock, but this time from a more experienced place.
There you have it! If The Maine hasn’t been on your radar, this should have you caught up and ready for the next chapter. Check back for a review of the new album, American Candy, out next week!