Before you write off The Maine as just another pop-rock band churning out formulaic tunes in an already crowded scene, I’d recommend giving Black & White a listen, because this album shows why the band was picked up by Warner Brothers. You can download the album right here.
While The Maine does offer undeniably catchy songs on Black & White, the tracks don’t sound like something you’ve already heard thousands of times before. This band from Tempe may have formed just three years ago, but The Maine has the sound of a cohesive group that has played together for years.
Black & White opens with “Don’t Stop Now,” which has a slight alt-country feel with the twangy opening riff, but this isn’t quite Wilco. The subdued verse gives way to a soaring chorus that is highlighted by some wah-infused riffing at the tail end. While this is a catchy track with relatable lyrics, the best part is the brief guitar break that leads into the breakdown.
“Right Girl” follows and is driven by up-tempo acoustic strumming through the verses. Lead singer John O’Callaghan shows that he has a way with words here, talking about the “girl you steal from the football team” and how he did the “wrong thing to the right girl” in this tale of alcohol-fueled misfortune. Given the crunchy power chords and social faux paus lyrics, The Maine comes off like a young, updated version of Weezer on this one.
“Growing Up” offers some nice picking and a slight Wallflowers feel, perhaps only because O’Callaghan sounds a bit like Jakob Dylan on this one – it’s not quite as morose or depressing as anything you’d find on Bringing Down The Horse Again, opposites seem to attract in his lyrics, as he quips, “growing up won’t bring us down.” The Maine shows off a nice range of dynamics on this song, and it’s likely to be a favorite.
The energetic “Fuel to the Fire” screams single, with a bouncy verse, anticipation-building pre-chorus and hook-filled chorus. The relatively unsophisticated chord structure is more than made up for by the little electric guitar licks that The Maine drops in every once in a while.
“Inside of You” is the lead single, and it’s not really hard to figure out why, as it’s strikingly catchy and doesn’t let up for a second. The theme of sexual frustration is likely to appeal to older fans who’ve experienced something similar as well as teeny boppers who probably feel bad-ass listening to a song like this.
“Every Road” continues the dance of acoustic and electric guitars trading off lead responsibilities. Thankfully, the electric side of things gets to bust out into a solo, showing that The Maine have more than your average pop-rock band.
The rest of Black & White offers more of the same style, which surprisingly doesn’t get stale, given the fact that The Maine’s signature sound is stamped all over every song. Not that it’s a bad thing – each song seems catchier than the last, with just enough variation in individual song structures to keep things interesting. Black & White will definitely be a hit for fans of mainstream radio fans, and might even be a guilty pleasure for those who tend to be attracted toward indie or harder rock. This band seems to be just hitting its stride, and it will be interesting to see where The Maine goes from here.