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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

AJR’s ‘The Maybe Man’ works through the growing pains of life

Alex Kendall

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on a struggle bus this semester. I’ve just turned 20 and I’m starting to feel the growing pains of becoming an adult. As my mom described it, “the novelty of college has started to wear off” now that I’m in my sophomore year. The workload and social stressors have become more prominent.

But something that’s been keeping me going this semester is the long-awaited release of AJR’s new album, “The Maybe Man,” which consists of 12 songs, five of which were already released within the past year.

Though the band name might not sound familiar to some, you’d probably recognize AJR’s song “World’s Smallest Violin,” which became popular on Instagram and TikTok. Its song “Bang!” reached No. 8 on the Billboard Top 100, and stayed in the Top 100 for 35 weeks from mid-2020 to early-2021.

The band comprises three brothers: Adam, Jack and Ryan Met, who have performed together since 2005.

Last November, the band teased the new album with an Instagram post of the letters “TMM.” The album was known by this acronym up until this August, when AJR finally announced the full name of the album.

Though staples of AJR songs, like heavy synths and upbeat rhythms, were present in the album, these songs dig into deeper feelings.

The brothers announced on social media on July 1 that their father has been sick for over a year, which sparked the creation of the song “God is Really Real,” the 11th song on the album. They started writing the song at the beginning of their father’s illness and wanted to release the song while their father was still alive.

“I think the album is a real self-exploration kind of journey,” Ryan said in a video on Instagram. “It’s very much about ‘Who am I? Am I a different person with you, or you, or you?’ and what does that leave me with? I think it’s something we were really going through for the last year, just with everything with our dad. We had a kind of a crazy year and you get to hear a lot of it on the album.”

Though it was originally supposed to be released with the rest of the album, their dad’s condition got worse months before the album was released. The brothers recorded a simple lyric video to go with the song while they were in the hospital with their dad, then released the song with the video on July 3. Later that day, their dad died.

“God is Really Real” discusses grief and spirituality, but the rest of the album covers a variety of topics and scenarios that I believe are on the minds of many people who are entering their adult years.

The brothers do a great job relating their own experiences to their audience. It helps me feel understood and heard when I’m going through the difficult times that come with being a 20-year-old.

As a college student, a song that really spoke to me off the album was “Inertia.” I loved the musical elements of the song, like the slower rhythm and harmonies, which made the song different from other AJR songs.

What also made “Inertia” so great was that it dives into the feeling of being stuck, literally having inertia. It can be easy to fall into a mundane routine in college, especially during this time of the semester. My to-do list never seems to be clear around Thanksgiving and winter break. So the line, “Where I am going is right where I am” brings that feeling to light.

All but one song, “Hole in the Bottom of My Brain,” is labeled explicit. Although the song has a completely different meaning than “Inertia,” this is another song that’s relatable to college students. Not to mention this song is an earworm and will get stuck in your head.

Everyone desires some form of validation once in a while, but this song describes how some people need validation to function. The song takes a specific angle about how social media makes the want for validation stronger. The first line of “Hole in the Bottom of My Brain” speaks about how people need to post everything they’re doing online so people can see how great their life is.

Especially in our generation, we hide a lot of our negative emotions behind screens. We feel one way in real life, but our social media profiles show something completely different. This song is AJR’s take on that issue.

I would recommend this album for everyone, but particularly for college students. It’s hard to put feelings into words sometimes, but I find that music is a great vessel to do so. “The Maybe Man” describes many of those feelings in a way other musicians haven’t been able to do. So next time you feel overwhelmed with the growing pains of life, give this album a listen.

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Carleigh Beck
Carleigh Beck, Associate News Editor

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