The Maine have come a long way since the release of their second album, Black and White, in 2010. It was their first album on a major label, and also their last. They quickly left Warner Brothers to pursue an independent career in order to maintain their musical integrity. The result of this was the creation of two albums that were practically on the opposite sides of the spectrum. 2011’s Pioneer was an upbeat and refreshing burst of sincere pop rock tinged with the playfulness of pop punk. 2013’s Forever Halloween took the band’s sound to very dark places as it oozed a brooding and melancholic energy thanks to lyrics that bordered on the incredibly morbid, and a moody punk influence that laced their pop rock energy with melancholy.
With the release of their fifth studio album, American Candy, The Maine step away from the brooding melancholy that characterized Forever Halloween. The direction they take is one that was hinted to by the deluxe edition of Forever Halloween: wistful and intelligent pop rock masquerading as pop punk. In its entirety, American Candy is a reflection on the band that initially broke into their scene with their high energy pop punk anthems about love and youth. There is a youthful sense of energy and romanticism present on the album, but there are moments when The Maine acknowledge that they are no longer the twenty-something year olds they were when they released Black and White.
Gone is the overuse of four chord guitar riffs and the choruses constructed for the sheer purpose of having a crowd sing it back to them. These elements may have worked when The Maine were starting their career, but there is a point where a band has to grow up slightly. American Candy is truly the final stage of The Maine’s musical evolution. They have managed to find a delicate balance between creating a mature album, and still maintaining the playful energy that grabbed their fans attention. Melody-infused pop rock can be found strolling arm-in-arm with frantic bursts of pop punk-styled sing-along choruses while somber whispers of indie rock guitar quietly muck about in the backdrop of the sonic landscape of American Candy.
Songs like “English Girls” will have you prancing about your room like the overly sexualized beings to which the song pays homage. You’ll find it difficult to not sing along to the melody infused pop rock anthem that oozes with obscene amounts of swagger as John O’Callaghan croons about one night stands in the most romantic way possible. “Miles Away” is a blast of pop punk for the contemporary adult. The song is as struggle between pop punk and pop rock as the band reflects on the days gone by, and how far they have come in their career.
American Candy is more than just the fifth album from a well-established pop rock band. It represents something on an entirely new level. It is rather an album that reflects a band’s evolution from singing about girls to creating songs that take an introspective look at their lives, while maintaining their tongue-in-cheek style. If you’re looking for a solid collection of unique pop rock anthems then look no further than American Candy.