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Album Review: The Maine’s eighth studio album is emotive, cohesive masterwork

“One of the reasons we’re still a band is because we’re all in on the idea of The Maine.”

John O’Callaghan has never been shy about his love for his band and listeners from around the world gladly show up to all of the Arizona quintet’s unique and offbeat events. To celebrate the upcoming release of The Maine’s new album, eager fans settled into a movie theater on a balmy Wednesday in Tempe for their first in-person interaction with the hometown heroes in more than a year. XOXO: From Love and Anxiety in Real Time is The Maine’s eighth (!!!) studio album and may be their most stunningly cohesive record to date.

With their typical goofy, lighthearted humor, the band screened a short documentary that took the theater behind the scenes into the making of what they deem their most ambitious, yet most easily digestible record yet. We’d already been gifted “Sticky” and “Lips”, the two openers- both of which segue into the first interlude, “Love in Real Time”. A visual experience accompanied this special listening party, all carefully curated by bassist Garrett Nickelsen. 

“High Forever” takes thumping bass and a psychedelic throwback vibe and turns it into a modern disco-rock banger. Heads were bobbing as fans contained their excitement to their seats, but it was clearly an early favorite. 

For all the uncoupled folk out there, “April 7th” (another single) won’t ease the loneliness- its journey through the stages of love is truly the most romantic the band has ever sounded. As with albums past, XOXO flows seamlessly from song to song without pausing. The instrumentation commands full attention- no skips allowed. 

“Dirty, Pretty, Beautiful” is one of those songs that turns your head and makes you sit up a little straighter in your seat. It is The Maine at their most The 1975 and it’s past due for a live audience turning venues into dancefloors. Fast forward through one more perfectly-timed interlude before The Maine’s signature epic outro. 

“Face Towards the Sun” takes its place among “Another Night on Mars” and “Flowers on the Grave” in terms of killer set-ending moments. This track demands a full venue, faces upturned and voices raised in celebration- as does the entirety of the album.

We’ve been so blessed to have The Maine for 14 years and each time, they manage to completely surprise us with what they come up with next. XOXO is the most welcome surprise, already cementing itself in a discography that contains nothing but classics and the potential to come.

XOXO: From Love and Anxiety in Real Time is out July 9!

Story by Olivia Khiel
Photo courtesy of The Maine