The Maine's "American Candy" is an indie rock masterpiece

Tempe indie rockers The Maine released their highly-anticipated fifth studio album, "American Candy," on Tuesday.

The band has been teasing the album since the summer, when it announced that it would be heading first to Heber, Arizona, to write the record and later to Joshua Tree to record it. 

Through its social media accounts, the band dropped hint after hint about the album using its cerulean color scheme to get fans excited about the impending release. 

Lead singer John O'Callaghan even promised at the beginning of last summer that he would let his hair grow until the album was done, cutting it short once official promotion for "American Candy" began.

While this new release is markedly more upbeat than its predecessor, 2013's "Forever Halloween," it is anything but shallow as it covers themes of individuality, authenticity and freedom. 

Are you a fan of The Maine? Be sure to catch the opening date of their American Candy Tour featuring The Technicolors, Knuckle Puck and Real Friends at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe this Friday. Tickets can be purchased here.


(Photo courtesy of Dirk Mai)

“The idea of ‘American Candy’ to me was about the junk they got us all hooked on in a forced feeding way, the manufactured manipulative garbage,” O'Callaghan said in a previous interview with The State Press. 

The album's lead single, "English Girls," brings back the infectious pop sound of the The Maine's debut album while providing a newfound edge to its sound. 

O'Callaghan's voice is more mature, delivering emotions more authentically than in the past, but still maintaining a fun vibe in the songs.

The album's second single, "Miles Away," manages to feel fresh while not sacrificing the musical maturation the band underwent on its more somber fourth album, "Forever Halloween." 

The song focuses on some of the themes that were key to the band's first two albums (2008's "Can't Stop Won't Stop" and 2010's "Black & White") — "pretty pretty girls" and escapist trips to the coast with friends. 

However, the song takes a more reflective approach to these themes as O'Callaghan looks back on his youth and these carefree trips.  

The album's stand out track comes at about the halfway point with "Diet Soda Society." The song's opening lines — "To be honest, I am full of sh*t / But that's alright / Because everyone else that I know is" — capture the central struggle of the album as the band tries to find genuine experience in the bubble gum sweet world they describe. 

With themes like this, "American Candy" is far from bubblegum pop. However, songs like "My Hair" show that the darker themes of "Forever Halloween" have come and gone. 

The song is an almost comical ode to O'Callaghan's unruly locks during the process leading up to American Candy. However, it also deals with the last burst of freedom and youth that comes along with letting your hair grow long, tying itself back into the central theme of the album.

In the world of manufactured pop music, The Maine's "American Candy" is just what indie rock needs as it provides upbeat tunes with a deeper message. 

In an effort to fight against the inauthentic drivel, the American candy that The Maine has pushed itself away from, the band created a masterpiece. The album manages to pull together all of the good of past albums while continuing to grow as artists, something that is hard to pull off. As it acknowledges its past and looks forward to the future of music, the album makes clear what O'Callaghan expressed on the title track — the Maine doesn't fancy American candy.

Reach the assistant arts & entertainment editor at or follow @emilymzentner on Twitter

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