The growth of a band can be beautiful if it takes the proper turns. The members grow with every passing year and the influences on their sound and writing adjust. When it comes to The Maine, these past 10 years have done wonders. The band has hit a new level of maturity; they are finally coming to terms with themselves as a band and they are independent to express this growth however they choose.
On “Lovely Little Lonely”, the band took the familiar formula they have stuck to for years and added a few caveats. Though it may not be their best album piece-by-piece, the final product is a brand new experience that any fan, new or old, should give a chance.
The album opens to the familiar melodies of what one might expect from The Maine. The groove on “Don’t Come Down” is tight, the chorus reels you in and John’s vocals are addicting. It’s almost unfair of the band to open the album this way, because the journey through the remainder of the album is riddled with unknown paths.
The album works in sync with it’s title. There are three tracks throughout, titled “Lovely”, “Little” and “Lonely,” each working as a transitional track that ushers in a new portion of the album. This gives the full, start-to-finish listen a clean movement, as each of the title tracks transition into the following track. It’s something that the band has never attempted before at this scale, and for the most part works well. It is a shame the final two tracks, “Lonely” and “How Do You Feel?” don’t connect better, because I may have even called this format perfect.
As for the stand alone tracks, the album is strong, but maybe not as much as prior attempts. “Black Butterflies and Deja Vu” is an incredibly peppy track that serves as one of the more dynamic examples throughout the record. Previously mentioned “How Do You Feel?” is a solid rock anthem that closes the record with a punch.
The slower examples on the record play a nice role in adding some depth. “Taxi” brings a sense of melancholy within it’s somewhat unsettling lyrics. What looks to be a cute jam about a couple talking in a taxi turns to real questions of love and longevity. “I Only Want to Talk to You” sees the band pulling out the most emotional and gripping track on the entire album. The slow beat and crushing chorus are one of the highlights throughout and keep the pacing tight and even.
“Bad Behavior” was the opening single on the record and is the most standard track as a whole. The melodies are very reminiscent of the group’s previous album “American Candy” and tend to make the track feel disjointed from the rest of the music. “Do You Remember? (The Other Half of 23)” is unfortunately forgettable as a stand alone track, strutting clean guitar riffs and vocals that aren’t highly inspired. That being said, the track isn’t necessarily bad, just not very special. “The Sound of Reverie” also falls into this category. Though the songs leads in with an interesting guitar pattern, the climax to the chorus is generic in comparison.
What needs to be understood about this record, more than anything, is that it is meant to be listened from start to finish. This is not a record I could see myself enjoying nearly as much on shuffle. There is a reason to each transition and to the placement of each song on this project. To anyone trying to give this record a shot, I can’t stress enough how important this is. As I’ve mentioned, this is the band’s first attempt as a sequential album like this, and it shines if given the listen that is intended.
This is what makes “Lovely Little Lonely” hard to judge. As an album that is meant for pure relaxation and ease of listening, it doesn’t hit the mark as well as the band’s previous work. “American Candy” and “Pioneer” would be my choices if you’re looking for that kind of content. However, it’s clear that is not what the band was intending to achieve with this work. This feels like a step in a new direction, while not losing the core of what the band has come to be. There are nods to previous work, while still laying new ground for future endeavors.
I think it’s clear that The Maine knew full well what this album would be, and that makes it special. “Lovely Little Lonely” is an experience and a true test of courage for the band. Over the past 10 years, these guys have consistently grown with each piece of material they present, and after releasing this record, it’s clear that they are one of the top contributors to the dying breed of true rock and roll.