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Thursday, 6 June 2013

ALBUM REVIEW // THE MAINE'S FOREVER HALLOWEEN

Image taken from Google
In it's own right, Forever Halloween is a spot on album. It's grown up, sophisticated and filled with raw emotion. Listen to it directly after Pioneer & The Good Love, and the progression is natural and expected even. But if you're an old fan hoping to hear The Maine going back to their upbeat pop punk routes, look elsewhere. It's not that this album doesn't have it's fair share of songs that you can't help but jump around to, because songs Love and Drugs, Run and White Walls certainly provide that, but it's easy to see what a long way the band have come since their punk pop roots. It wasn't quite what I expected - I'm not sure what I expected really - but it definitely didn't disappoint. It's got a very 90s alternative rock feel to it and although I immediately loved it on my first listen, I've found that it's continued to grow on me more ever since. It's definitely an album that is awesome to begin with, but only seems to improve more and more with every listen.

The band struggled with their last album, basically recording the whole thing in secret and then releasing it themselves because they knew it wouldn't fit in with what the record label wanted. Although I love all their albums, even their very first ones and the ones produced under labels they are no longer with, it's easy to understand that they've really let go and completely gone ahead with what they think represents them right now on this album. They haven't held back to please a record label or fans used to the old stuff. They've not been afraid to try something new and go deeper and I really love that fact.

Forever Halloween is very raw and, as the band have continually stated, it's also very human. It was recorded with all band members present in one room playing together, as opposed to each member recording their different parts then putting the song together. In a sense this makes it a lot more honest ; they haven't relied on a computer or special effects to disguise their mistakes, with Forever Halloween what you see is what you get. It's upfront and also slightly experimental.


I won't go into detail about every song but there are a few in particular that stood out for me, if even because I feel like I don't quite understand the other ones yet or haven't listened to the lyrics well enough! To begin with, Run has an amazing opening beat that you can't help immediately tapping and nodding along to. The mood is kind of mystical, the lyrics talking about demons and how the moon invites the madness but if I'm honest it's really just one of those real awesome songs that you can't help but rock out to.

I really loved White Walls. At first I thought it signified the innocence of a relationship ; full of mistakes but the desperate need to not give up on each other. Front man and singer John O'Callaghan sings 'I'm just a kid, don't walk away', almost begging that the fact that he's still young and can still make mistakes be understood. But when I watched the videos explaining about each song, John talked about how it was actually about the way you grow up and take on your own responsibilities but still always have that feeling of needing your family or your mum or just having a little bit of help every now and then. (Note - I wasn't completely off then!)

Happy is ironic in that its upbeat and very happy sounding when in fact it's about being alone. It's almost as if it's trying to say that being alone sucks, a lot, and sometimes you might be desperate to find someone but it's still okay. And it's definitely okay to admit feeling like this. The theme continues on in Kennedy Curse where John O'Callaghan sings about not feeling a thing and being desperate for someone to take his heart. Don't worry John, I'll be your girlfriend! Nonetheless, whether he's really that lonely or not, it makes for great music and moving lyrics.

Birthday in Los Angeles is another firm favourite. It's very casual and simple, a stark contrast set slap bang in the middle of an album which is pretty much filled with deeper heavier songs. In a way it's quite soothing too and very stripped down to the basics, almost as if its just a man and his guitar. There's not much I can say about these lyrics, I've heard that this song is both about John's feelings towards LA and how LA is a metaphor for a girl. Perhaps it's both. (Then again I've been told he did once claim that their song Inside of You, which is clearly about sex, was actually about his dead dog..so who knows)


The 'ballad' of the album, if you will, is These Four Words. At first with the slow melody and beautiful piano notes, you'd expect it to be romantic, if a little sad. However it soon transpires that it's about admitting to yourself or someone else that you don't love them. It's very raw and emotional. It's sad because it begs the belief that sometimes being the dumper rather then the dumpee is much harder out of the two. Having to turn around and tell someone you're with that you don't love them, admitting that the relationship has fallen apart and you've fallen out of love with them is a horrible, heart breaking experience and this song conveys that really well. I think this song can affect almost everyone on some level but it's a song that is rarely ever sang. We often listen to songs about being heartbroken and not being able to fix things, but rarely do we hear about what its like to be the one that cares less, to listen to a man singing about how it feels when someone loves you more than you love them.

Note - I do have to quote ATP's comment/review on These Four Words as I feel this explains it a lot better then I did.
"The must-hear track of Forever Halloween is 'These Four Words'. Accompanied by nothing but a piano, front man John O'Callaghan sings about four words, opposed to the three we are so accustomed to musicians singing about. Not 'I love you', but 'I don't love you'. The result is nothing short of haunting..."
Click here for the source of this quote.

Finally, the final song on the album, Forever Halloween, sums up and explains the album title perfectly. It talks about how we all wear a costume, we all put on a brave face when we've been hurt, we all fake confidence when talking to the person we like, we always pretend and act and insist we're okay, even when we're not. In my personal opinion, this album has stripped down all of these beliefs and personas to give us something that is completely raw and pure from this band. I don't think I'm right (but isn't that one of the best parts of music, analysing something yourself?), but I think the title is kind of ironic in that it's on Halloween that we only really own up and admit to putting on a costume and do it willingly. Perhaps Forever Halloween represents that time when we admit this and begin to understand the differences between a costume we wear and who we really are. It's about finally being honest and I think all the songs - and the album as a whole - represents that perfectly.

Image taken from Tumblr

The Maine are currently on the 8123 tour with A Rocket to the Moon, Brighten and This Century.



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