Who needs overplayed, synthesized pop tracks when you’ve got The Maine semi-getting into the holiday spirit with their new EP Imaginary Numbers? While it’s nowhere close to the wintery tracks drizzled with sugar and cheer, its soft, campy feel lets listeners imagine they’re watching the band in an intimate lounge setting or even in someone’s living room with the fire crackling in the background.
Imaginary Numbers’ first released track, “Raining in Paris”, was by far the best song for the job because it starts off with what can easily be heard as an utterly emotional heartbreak story that rivals Poison’s ‘80s ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”. The chorus lines “My heart is in the city of love/but it’s raining in Paris” reveal that while lead singer John O’Callaghan’s heart may be in shambles, he’s still somewhat of a hopeless romantic (especially in the lines “I’d ask you to dance on some cliche mountain top” and “we’d share straws at your favorite coffeeshop”). Apart from its insightful and honest lyrics, the nice thing about this song is that it has a slight European feel to its instrumentation, with a hint of organ in the background and a country-esque twist in its guitars and vocals.
Both “Room With No Windows” and “Visions” have instrumentation that sounds like they could’ve been passed down from generations past. Xylophones (“Room With No Windows” and harmonicas (“Visions”) are perfectly combined with the light guitar strumming that is the base instrument for both tracks. While both are relatively similar in sound, they are very different lyric-wise. “Room With No Windows” discusses the thoughts one may have if they’re trying to figure out what their life purpose is in at singsong-y pace, while “Visions” can clearly be heard as a haunting, echoing story of an old love leaving without reason that resembles Hinder’s 2007 hit “Better Than Me”. It’s definitely a tossup as to which track makes you feel like your heart is getting crushed more because both are equally emotional and everyone has (or at least knows someone who has) experienced these lyrics to their fullest.
Imaginary Numbers’ other two tracks, “Perfectly Out of Key” and “Lovely Sad”, are both intimate, lounge-y and completely raw in theme choices. This EP is the perfect blend of acoustic storytelling and special holiday treats. Sometimes acoustic tracks can all sound the same, but The Maine is successful in differentiating each track with tweaks in the instrumentation. While I’ve got to admit that it’s a great set of songs to listen to if you’re feeling a little down in the dumps, their lullaby quality doesn’t really help if you’re trying to be productive (I definitely napped through the first listen, no shame). Overall, it fulfills its purpose as an acoustic EP but I prefer their peppy alternative style over this one.