Revisiting American Candy: How The Maine’s Album Proves to Be a Modern Classic
The Maine’s 2015 album American Candy proves to be a modern classic in today’s day and age. The album’s themes of belonging, self positivity, and overcoming your struggles have shown to be more relevant now than its initial release.
The Maine broke out on the scene in early 2008 with their album Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. Hits like “Into Your Arms” and “Girls Do What They Want” gave them recognition and the little band from Arizona found themselves with a record deal and a Billboard Top 20 album with their next release, Black & White. Their sound matched the pop punk icons that reigned supreme during that era and it might have been easy for them to get lost in the shuffle with so many similar bands.
The band showed they were indeed here to stay with 2011’s Pioneer. Pioneer saw the band transitioning to a harder, more alternative rock sound and demanded to be taken seriously. While the album didn’t debut as high as its predecessor, it showed the band was heading in a different direction rather than trying to capitalize off a sound that was on its way out.
2013’s Forever Halloween found the Maine all grown up. The band shifted gears into an alternative/indie rock sound. Singer John O’Callaghan’s lyrics proved to be some of his best yet. Songs like “Happy”, “Kennedy Curse”, “Love and Drugs”, and “These Four Words” all deal with themes of loneliness, depression, and heartbreak. The album’s new sound can be attributed to its producer, Raconteurs singer/guitarist Brendan Beeson. Beeson brings in styles reminiscent of early Wilco, Ryan Adams, and alt country styles like the Old 97’s. But through all these new elements, the band still maintains a sound all of their own with O’Callaghan’s unique voice and the guitar stylings of Jared Monaco and Kennedy Brock.
Two years later, the band releases American Candy. The first track “Miles Away” already proves to be a much brighter sound than it’s darker predecessor. “Miles Away” will have you turning up the volume, windows down, hair blowing in the wind with the wayfarers on leaving it all in the rearview mirror. Instead of dwelling on heartbreak and sadness, O’Callaghan’s lyrics find him dusting off his shoulders and promoting a new outlook. “Same Suit, Different Tie”, “Am I Pretty?”, and “My Hair” all give the message of having fun with yourself, not caring about others opinions, and finding beauty in everyone. The lyrics of “Same Suit” and “My Hair” tell us to embrace our styles, ignore the haters, and that we don’t need flashy designer names to make us feel like we own the town with our style.
“There’s beauty and grace in the flaws of your face/All candor and style in the crook of your smile,” sings O’Callaghan on “Am I Pretty?” a track that deals with self love and getting rid of negativity about yourself. O’Callaghan reminds us that our flaws are what define us and make us unique. Don’t cover them up because you want to be wanted.
Perhaps the track that feels most poignant today is “24 Floors”. Eerily relevant in the wake of the deaths of singers Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington who were both lost to mental illness. The track’s protagonist is 24 floors up in a hotel room and thinking about jumping. “You don’t wanna die tonight/ Take one more breath to clear your mind” sings O’Callaghan on the song’s powerful chorus. A message to all who are struggling with depressive thoughts and mental illness. “Every moment’s relevant/Bittersweet and delicate” he sings, reminding us that even the tough moments shape who we are and in the end, end up being bittersweet because we’re here today and stronger because of them.
“Diet Soda Society” proves to be another thought provoking track. Here he clearly writes about overthinking situations. “My every fear in essence/This neurotic head makes me believe danger is omnipresent” he sings. Going straight to bad in every situation, assuming the worst is on its way. But on the song’s addictively catchy chorus, he sings the line “Just shut up and drink your diet soda” reminding listeners to stop, chill out, and relax. Live in the now and stop thinking about what may or may not happen.
The album’s closer, “Another Night On Mars” ends the album on happy note. The track feels like a lost Bowie/Mott the Hoople song. If “All the Young Dudes” and “Life on Mars?” had a baby it would be this. “This one goes out to my closest friends/ The ones who make me feel less alien” sings O’Callaghan on the opening verse, dedicating it to those people in our lives who make us feel like we belong. Having the entire band sing along to chorus hits it home.
In today’s day and age of trying to be accepted for who one is, American Candy is the album is motivation for the person who’s worried about their image, their self worth, or their place in the world. American Candy both lyrically and musically shows the Arizona quintet have come a long way since their pop punk sound.
The Maine is currently on tour now with Dashboard Confessional and All-American Rejects but you can catch them on a headlining tour this fall where they will be performing American Candy and their latest album Lovely Little Lonely in their entireties. See if the band is hitting your town here!
Check out the music video for “Am I Pretty?” below: