The Maine: Pioneer Album Review

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The Maine
Pioneer
Record Label: Action Theory Records
Release Date: December 6, 2011

Track Listing:
01. Identify
02. My Heroine
03. Time
04. Some Days
05. I’m Sorry
06. Don’t Give Up on Us
07. Misery
08. When I’m at Home
09. Thinking of You
10. Jenny
11. Like We Did (Windows Down)
12. While Listening to Rock & Roll
13. Waiting for My Sun to Shine

The Maine sang on their Warner Brothers Records début, “Growing up, it won’t bring us down.” This was sang along with a seemingly more mature and new sound. The Maine tried to grow past their début, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, but didn’t quite make it that far. On Pioneer, they made sure it was their sound, their music, their input. It has the upbeat qualities that made you fall in love with the Maine initially but it broadens into a much different progression than what you would imagine after Black & White. Powerful vocals from John O’Callaghan, a bit of country twang, & on point instrumentals, make this record a definite upgrade from their last album.

I’m what time and consequence have made me. Pioneer opens with “Identify,” showing that the Maine took the time to create something special. And it’s so very different from early songs like “Everything I Ask For” and “Girls Do What They Want.” One of the lines goes, “Time to give them what they’re waiting for.” This line describes perfectly what everyone has waited to come out of the Maine. Still maintaining their pop sound, they have a much more powerful presence on this song as does John O’Callaghan’s vocal performance. In “My Heroine,” you hear the country influence that is supposed to run throughout the album. O’Callaghan has always had the vocal ability to sing his heart out, but the instrumental performance has not always backed up the power his voice holds. This thought is completely pushed aside on “My Heroine” because all aspects of the song work. It’s a powerful performance with a rock undertone and a lot of sexual references.

Trust in us, we’re all that you’ve got these days This is the first time I’ve felt a genuine feeling of emotion out of the Maine on an album. It’s no longer about getting girls, girls doing what they want, and being left. “I’m Sorry” takes on the subject of disappointment, excuses, and not being good enough. The sheer power of delivery in John’s performance sends chills down your spine as he belts out “I’m sorry.” “Don’t Give Up On Us” takes a lighter route, an almost anthem feel, after the emotional rocker that was “I’m Sorry.” An uptempo preaching to the listener to never give up. It’s almost as if the Maine are saying to not give up on them, as a band. Despite what people may say about the Maine “selling out” by signing to Warner Bros. and changing up their sound, “trust in us is all you’ve got these days” is what they continue to sing. Of course it could be about a girl about to give up on the relationship, but let’s stick to my theory.

*Let’s just take a moment to recognize that while writing this review, Aaron Carter followed me on Twitter. Therefore, good things happen when you listen to the Maine*

“Thinking of You” is the most whimsical and different of all the songs on Pioneer. The instrumentals during “When I’m At Home” are better than anything Jared Monaco has done before. It’s flawless and has a catchy groove. “Thinking of You” is the most whimsical and different of all the songs on Pioneer. The second this song was put on, a smile beamed on my face. Never did I think the Maine would create a song like this when I first heard of them back in the day. They have really matured and so have their creative decisions. “Thinking of You” isn’t the classic song about girls that the Maine are known to write about. It’s a heart twisting, smile making, adorable sort of song that must be played live. “Jenny” doesn’t quite do it for me and doesn’t evoke any feelings in the pit of my stomach like some of the other songs have.

Upbeat “Like We Did (Windows Down)” is one of the highlights of the album. It channels old school the Maine while continuing with the concept of Pioneer. Other highlights of the album include “My Heroine” and “Waiting for My Sun to Shine.”

All the members of the Maine have truly stepped up their game on this album. After label disputes, they had nothing to lose so they went and made an album that was truly, the Maine. They’ve faced success, criticism, major label disputes, and now have gained the maturity to make the grown up album they’ve sought to do for ages. Pioneer has a focused energy that runs all throughout it. There are no fillers on this album. Each song shows the time and effort they’ve put into this. It’s more complete in the direction, sound, progression, and effort of all the members.

Rating: 8/10

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Nancy Hoang created Hopeless Thunder in 2007. She conducts the interviews, writes the articles, photographs the concerts, and handles the site's coding & design. (Basically, she's a control freak.) Her work can also be seen on music publication, CMJ. Contact Nancy for image licensing, assignments, or just to say hi.

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