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Album Review: The Maine - Forever Halloween

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The Maine - Forever Halloween

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In a time where many bands and artists are so often limited by what their label is and is not willing to produce and release, it's refreshing to find a band, whose origins were pop/rock, that had the courage to break free. Arizona band The Maine left their major label Warner after only one release (their second studio album, Black & White, released in 2010) when creative differences were leading their third studio album, Pioneer (released in 2011), in a direction they didn't wish to take it.

The band has just released their fourth studio album, Forever Halloween, on June 4. The record was produced by Brendan Benson of The Raconteurs and is The Maine's second consecutive self-funded album. Released independently in the US, Forever Halloween was released in partnership with The Maine's management team Eighty One Twenty Three. It was released via Rude Records in Europe, UK, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Japan.

While it still has some pop riffs interlaced through the songs, the overall feeling of the album is far from a traditional pop record. They've officially broken through into the less vague alt rock genre and if their last two albums are any indicators they have no plans to leave any time soon. There is an obvious absence of catchy refrains and instead an overwhelming presence of thoughtful, personal lyrics. Having grown and matured so much as musicians and individuals since their first record, Can't Stop, Won't Stop, was released in 2008 this new album reveals more about the band than ever before.

The band's website explains that Forever Halloween was recorded completely old school; it was recorded live through analog tape. The more standard computer editing techniques were abandoned in the production of this album. This method resulted in giving the album a much more united vibe. Frontman John O'Callaghan explains the experience:

“The tape machine was like having an older, wiser, intimidatingly glowing woman in the room. We were all meeting her for the first time, but she already knew everything there was to know about the five of us. In no single way judgmental, but she sniffed out the bulls*** and wouldn’t allow us to be anyone we are not. We are now better men for meeting that woman.”

One of the strongest tracks on the album is the second single, "These Four Words." Described as "the mot revealing song [John O'Callaghan] has ever written" the song explores the relatable struggle of realizing and ultimately accepting the fact that you don't love the one you're with. It's haunting, it's raw, and it's brilliant. Accompanied only with piano, O'Callaghan's voice is riddled with emotion. This song alone warrants 5 stars.

Other highlights include "Birthday in Los Angeles," "Sad Songs," and title track "Forever Halloween" which declares "We're all monsters living in a dream." It's not everyday that a band makes such a drastic detour from their original sound and lives to tell the tale. The Maine has done it time and time again and they have something to be proud of.

The Maine is touring in support of the new record as headliners of the first ever 8123 tour. They will be supported by A Rocket to the Moon, This Century, and Brighten. The 8123 tour will make a stop at the 930 Club in Washington, DC on Saturday, July 6. Tickets are still available through Ticketfly.

The Maine is John O'Callaghan, Garrett Nickelsen, Pat Kirch, Kennedy Brock, and Jared Monaco.

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