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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

AJR returns with ‘The Maybe Man’

AJR in Raleigh, playing 100 Bad Days from their Neotheater album.
Bree Lavine
AJR in Raleigh, playing “100 Bad Days” from their “Neotheater” album.

One of my “Inside Out” core memories happened two years ago. when one of my best friends took me to a live concert in Raleigh to see one of our favorite bands, AJR. It was my first live concert ever and the experience was unforgettable. Not just because of the crazy storm that happened on the way there — it was an outside concert by the way.

I don’t listen to bands or even full albums because for me, artists always have their own unique style in any art form. I like to listen to a variety, so usually I’d find a couple of favorite songs and leave it at that. 

AJR was different though. Their music was creatively fascinating and every song, while having a similar style, had different elements. Having listened to all of their music I can say no two songs sound the same, which is an enormous achievement in my eyes.

Their songs have a creative complexity to them and the content is very transparent and real. They have a self-aware connection to all of their music and even when some songs go on a deeper level, the energetic instruments and vocals make your heart break a little but also make you vibe along in your car. 

That is, unless it’s the “Turning Out” trilogy of songs. Those are there to make you cry and or question your life choices. I highly recommend it, though — all three are great songs!

“The Maybe Man” was released on Nov. 10 and received over 3 million listens that day. While I was a little late to the party, I can say with certainty that I wasn’t disappointed.

With two previous singles being released from the album earlier this year, it was safe to say that I was waiting for this album with bated breath. The more interesting thing was that this album did many things I wasn’t expecting, which made it all the more enjoyable.

My favorite AJR songs have always been the ones that were catchy and got me pumped up but also had a deeper meaning. Songs like “Next Flix Trip,” which is probably one of the songs I relate to most, as AJR uses references to “The Office” and talks about the lifelike season of a TV show. The vocals are also beautiful in this song.

Another would be “Don’t Throw Out My Legos,” a song I discovered at the concert. I remember that it had started raining, so while I was listening to this song about moving out, growing up and feeling the crowd energy of such a deep song, these cool raindrops were hitting my face. It’s amazing how vividly you remember something when it strikes a chord within you.

My first AJR song was one of these deeper songs and after hearing it I fell in love with them. The acoustic version of “Pretender”  was an influential song that made me feel like I wasn’t alone in how I was approaching life, as a teenager still trying to figure herself out.

On a brighter note, another standout for me on the album was “Inertia” —  yes, the science concept inspired this song. The music is bright, hopeful and fun, which are words I never would say about a science concept, but AJR can do just about anything. 

Don’t get me wrong; I still love their more nonsensical songs that don’t have such a heavy meaning. “Let the Games Begin” was my favorite for a long time and was one of the first singles I listened to, and “I’m Ready,” with the SpongeBob reference in the audio, always makes me smile when it comes up on my playlist.

“The Maybe Man” follows AJR’s status quo of mixing their personal stories while making fun, creative and interesting music that you’ve never heard before, but you can tell that they’ve grown. 

“God is Real,” the second to last song of the album, is a clear dedication to their father who passed away in July of this year. This was the most personal and real song that I’ve heard from them and they still made it relatable to a wider audience. In the vocals, you can hear the grief that they’re feeling, and that alone made me tear up, that’s how powerful it was.

I could go on talking about AJR all day and I truly believe that they are the most interesting artists in modern music. I highly recommend listening to their music and just experiencing it for yourself.

 

My AJR Spotify recommendations:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3pMaa8Nr5vDTNrE44fSQtN?si=4db2265afd6a44d9

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