When The Maine released Forever Halloween in 2013, the band’s maturity as musicians was immediately evident. Though the band is still frequently labelled as “pop punk,” (even four years after the release of their last album which can be labelled as such, Black and White) Forever Halloween showed a transition to a more indie alternative sound, especially with songs like “These Four Words” and “Kennedy Curse.”
This year, the band released the deluxe version of Forever Halloween, which features 5 new songs. The songs show a varying mix of genres, from their “pop punk” roots all the way to classic rock reminiscent of Pink Floyd. With a re-arrangement of song position (all the new songs come at the end), the tracks add a more subtle transition from their 2011 release, Pioneer to perhaps of sneak peak of the direction they’ll take next. The upbeat “So Criminal,” “Vanilla,” “Ugly on the Inside,” and “Bliss” almost seem out of place on album, which is made up of softer rock songs. All four of these songs play with an interesting mixture of The Maine’s more pop punk days, like “Time” from Pioneer, and the alternative sound on Forever Halloween. If played right after the last song on Pioneer and before”Take What You Can Carry” (the first track on Forever Halloween), these songs would make sense.
“So Criminal,” is a break up song filled with catchy guitar riffs, and some serious drumming by Pat Kirch, but lead singer John O’Callaghan’s gritty vocals as he calls out whoever the unfortunate “Christina” is in the chorus, really make the song. While “Vanilla” and “Ugly on the Inside” are songs that should have been around when I was in high school. Musically, “Vanilla” is less pop than the other new tracks, but the lyrics are full of angst. The chorus sings, “You’re boring, complacent / At your best, you’re still basic / You’re everything I hate about our youth,” which is a perfect anthem about being unique and staying true to yourself. Although “Ugly on the Inside” is more pop influenced, lyrically, it speaks to points, encouraging inner beauty (something that whoever the song is about lacked). Lyrically, the songs don’t seem to fit the maturity of songs like “White Walls.” But, with a fan base made up of with a lot of high school kids and young adult, the songs will probably resonate. “Bliss” is a perfect example of the maturity. In a similar vain as “Vanilla” and “Ugly on the Inside”, the song empowers to do whatever makes you happy without fear, (“Just take the right/Allow yourself to give in to this bliss”).
The last song song on the re-release is a song many fans have heard live, but never recorded. The Maine has been playing “Ice Cave” during their live set for a while, allowing each member to shine, Garrett Nickelsen on bass, Jared Monaco and Kennedy Brock on guitars, Pat, and John. The song shows heavy influence from the “psychedelic” rock of Pink Floyd. The band adds a darker tone, heavier guitar, and a mid song break, to make for a sound much different than anything they’ve released so far. The experimentation works for the band, and seems like a natural next step. (Or maybe I’m just hoping they continue with this sound).
While the new tracks may not be exactly groundbreaking for The Maine (minus “Ice Cave,” which is perhaps one of my all time favorite songs by the band), “Forever Halloween” still proves how much the band has matured musically; most notably in the poetic lyrics, and yet still how much they can grow given their talents.