The Maine
XOXO: From Love and Anxiety In Real Time

Just when you think that The Maine are hitting a groove in their musical delivery, they decide to take it up just a notch further and better. XOXO: From Love and Anxiety In Real Time is the perfect soundtrack to this summer of getting back to some sense of normalcy after the dumpster fire of this past year and a half. The Maine are able to channel everything that I love about their band into a crowd-pleasing package of ten songs that clock in at just over 30 minutes. With so much great momentum being carried forth from their last two records (Lovely Little Lonely and You Are Ok), the band are able to do the near-impossible of following up those amazing albums with a record worthy of being caught in the same breath of them.

The album opens steadily with two of the first three singles released in the ear candy guitar bliss of “Sticky” and my personal favorite “Lips.” As great as “Sticky” is with its features of great guitar grooves, tight harmonies, and slick production courtesy of the band and Andrew Goldstein, the band really blasts off into the stratosphere with “Lips.” The razor sharp chorus of, “Maybe it’s that loose-lipped way you make your words roll / Off that two-bit tongue when you lie / You can’t keep talking like this / Lips do more than just kiss,” is constructed damn-near perfectly and I’d go as far as to say it’s now one of my top-five all-time favorite The Maine songs to date. Lead singer John O’Callaghan is as captivating and energetic as he’s ever been and matches the frenetic pace of his bandmates with professional ease.

The band takes a brief pause in the kicked up pace with the laid back “Love In Real Time” that has a great bass line courtesy of Garrett Nickelsen. The fairly simplistic beat by drummer Pat Kirch sets the stage for the band to focus on more of the atmospheric elements the band did so well on the Lovely Little Lonely record. “High Forever” features some rare, and heavy-tinged synths from the band, and stomps along with veteran ease. The track is a great way of breaking up the similar sounding guitar tones brought forth on the record, and makes perfect sense to wedge into the middle of the album’s sequencing.

The second single released from the album, “April 7th” does its best job to encapsulate those feelings of a care-free summer day at the beach with the person you want to be with the most. John O’Callaghan sings passionately on one of the closing verses, “And I said / When I’m with you well it’s just like it’s the first time / April 7th never meant as much as that night / Before the blur / Well there you were / Under the lights,” and it’s one of purest love songs that The Maine has written to date.

”If Your Light Goes Out” is going to be my soundtrack for those starry nights of driving home with the windows down as that summer air takes the song for a ride into the atmosphere. The track is majestically constructed with some backing acoustic guitar that complements the electric elements from Kennedy Brock and Jared Monaco. Both of the main guitarists are incredibly underrated throughout the entire album, yet their contributions cannot be understated in their importance to the overall package.

”Pretender” lifts the pace up significantly from the middle few tracks, and the band does their best to explode out of the end of each verse with a repetitious wall of sound. The first time I heard this song, I thought that it was a cool way of breaking up the song structures found on this album, yet it becomes a little predictable as the track unfolds. Not a huge deal, and I’m sure it will allow for their fans to go extra crazy during the Sad Summer Fest in this particular sequence. Other tracks in the latter stages of the album sequencing such as “Dirty, Pretty, Beautiful” sound like the next logical step between the Lovely Little Lonely record and You Are Ok in ways that it almost makes more sense to play those albums in that order if you’re doing a highly recommended deep dive into The Maine’s discography.

The closing duo of the reflective track “Anxiety in Real Time” and the song “Face Towards The Sun” do nothing to detract from the overall beauty of this summer jam of an album called XOXO: From Love and Anxiety In Real Time. It’s on the album closer in particular that The Maine showcase their growth as musicians, artists, and really just individuals in general in their ability to convey a wide range of emotions through their music. While it’s too early to say where I’d rank this album in the lore of their storied collection of eight albums, I’ll sure be playing the shit out of this record throughout this summer as we all look towards better days ahead.