Album Reviews

American Candy – The Maine

Rating: 9/10

For God’s sake. I can’t stop/won’t stop (hahahahah! Get it?) listening to The Maine and I hate myself for it (I’m lying). I mean, okay. I used to listen to The Maine a lot. One time, when I couldn’t go to Warped Tour or whatever, my friends got John O to say “Hi Sofie!” while they recorded it. It made my young life. When I heard they were releasing a new album, I was all shocked, mostly because I thought that the band had (logically) broken up and, you know, stopped doing whatever it is they were doing. But I was also kind of happy, in a sick kind of way, the way I’m happy whenever Bring Me The Horizon releases a new album– because it’s proof to my old, 21-year-old (ugh) self that the bands of my youth are still obviously relevant to whoever is listening to them now. 

But then I get angry and I want to yell at the youth and teens of today. “You don’t understand!” I’d scream in dismay. “You have American Candy but we had Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop and Black & White and we liked it more than you ever will!” But I’m not crazy so I keep my mouth shut and avoid the local malls whenever I can. Anyway. Moving on.

American Candy is The Maine’s fifth studio release in seven years. Somehow, it sounds different. It doesn’t have any of that angsty, unfulfilled love vibe from any of their previous albums. The band’s definitely moved forward in sound and– dare I say it?– grown up a little. It’s not bitter or desperate. The focus of the album is no longer “Pretty girls I can’t have” or “The girl who left me” or “That one really good night we had in the summer,” although it obviously kept some allusions to all of those. The sound is more beachy this time around, as though slightly influenced by The Beach Boys, but not so much to completely change the tune of the record. They’re still a rock band, but this album is a lot more relaxed and slowed down– “My Hair” is a prime example of the band slowing down their music and stepping away from the pop punk influences that propelled them to fame in the first place.

“My Hair” isn’t even about anything, making it a perfect song for the Americana-inspired album, which seems to showcase and talk about individual issues more than “my friends” and “my ex-girlfriend” like the older albums did. The rock sound isn’t as aggressive in American Candy— the band doesn’t push their guitars as hard as they used to, and instead allow all of their instruments to work in synch together, and even allow some synth sounds to help start or complete songs. With softer sounds and a more ethereal backing, “English Girls” is the song most similar in lyrics to their original work, but is so much different in production.

“24th Floor” is another slow jam on the album, a moody tune that reminds of rainy days in hotels and the awkward loneliness that comes with staying in a different place. “To be honest/ I am full of shit,” opens “Diet Soda Society,” but I disagree. While the album is totally different in sound from what we’re used to with older pop punk bands, this new sound feels much more natural and fitting for the band. Without the weight of a generation of fake emo teens in love with them, it feels like The Maine were able to push forward with a musical sound that they wanted. “Am I Pretty?” feels like the most real song the band has ever released, and while the record is still obviously vaguely pop punk (you can’t get rid of your roots that easy), the heavy influence of that pop punk neediness is very much gone from American Candy

With only 10 songs, the album is a short one compared to most of the epics that are coming out lately, but it offers a wonderful taste of what a band that was always pretty decent to begin with is truly capable of. An incredible fifth album, American Candy doesn’t have a single bad song on it and is a pleasure to listen to beginning to end.

About author

Sofie Mikhaylova is a music writer at Live in Limbo and local nobody who spends her time loitering in parking lots and chain smoking. She listens to a lot of music and has an extensive CD collection, which she's spent many a Saturday night reorganizing. Her work has been published in Vice and Noisey, among others. Follow her on Twitter @sofiesucks.