The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

COLUMN: ‘The Maybe Man’ questions self identity, human principle

Staff+profile+for+Robert.
Ashanti Thomas
Staff profile for Robert.

Once again, AJR doesn’t fail to shatter the minds of millions around the world. In an album released in the end of 2023, the American indie pop group, consisting of three brothers, offers 12 relatable songs lamenting depersonalization, adulthood, love and the death of a loved one.

The first song, which is the namesake of the album, starts out strong with a consistent build up for the first two minutes that keeps the listener at attention. 

Vocalist Jack Met lists off several positive qualities he wishes to possess as an adult, wishing his emotions didn’t overtake him or to be wise enough to know something is going wrong. He juggles all of these anxieties, questioning his own capabilities and self-identity.

“Maybe Man” throws Met into a state of confusion that sets up the entire album. The song’s closing arc announces “pandemonium,” which best describes the rest of the album.

An anchor point of the album is about the brothers losing their dad, how they are coping and realizing they don’t know who they are without their father.

Throughout the album, the brothers interchangeably use the phrases “him,” “father” and “God” when practically begging for guidance on the lessons not taught and hardships.

This call doesn’t only harp on the grief of losing a parent, it adds subtle hints of questioning higher powers for taking their father from them, which is heavily addressed in the eleventh song titled “God is Really Real.”

In addition to the deep topics of losing a loved one, this album talks of becoming adults and owning it.

Opinions of AJR are very bipolar. From what I’ve seen, you either love them or hate them. 

The group’s whole shtick is a Peter Pan-esque message about never giving up childhood novelties despite getting older. 

The brothers address those criticisms by flipping the bird, giving the idea of conforming to what an adult should be a big “f-you” in one of their early releases “I Won’t.”

The message of the song is to be your own person and not be ashamed of how people may perceive you, which is inspiring because the group does not fold or sacrifice any part of themselves when creating music. 

Seeing the last part of the song trilogy “Turning Out” on the track list is a genuine delight. The first part released with “The Click” in 2017 and spoke of recognizing love and realizing it isn’t what is advertised in popular culture.

The second part released with “Neotheater” two years later and analyzes a relationship where love is only given one way and one partner clings to the idea of wanting someone to love them. Finally, the third part processes the stages of love from start to end and reflects on how love is not as grand of a spectacle as it may seem. 

In the ending lines, it says “Love isn’t big, kid. It’s simple and quiet. Let’s do today, I think you’ll turn out to like it.” This says how if you go into life wanting love and a relationship, you will only be let down. This song argues that love is something that comes naturally and to just take it a day at a time and someone will naturally appear. 

This easily has become one of many favorites from the album for its insightful angle into love.

In the final song of the album “2085” the brothers come to terms with how life is, saying how we need to make the most of it because if we focus on the details we will forget to appreciate it.

The brothers reclaim ownership of all their own feelings and perceptions toward the band by stating, it doesn’t matter what or who I may seem to be, I know who I am. 

I’m not afraid to say that this is the best album the group has produced.

AJR has a tendency to pair catchy, upbeat sounds with devastating and raw lyrics, but we have not seen it utilized to the ability this album showcases.

“The Click” speaks of nativity and the overwhelming feeling of newfound fame, “Neotheater” grapples with struggles you face as you enter adulthood and “OK Orchestra” reflects on past childhood experiences.

“The Maybe Man” tackles these harder topics listed earlier with absolute grace in a way that resonates with a younger audience and those my age. In every single song, I found myself connecting it back to a previous or current feeling. 

While this album doesn’t hold a candle to “OK Orchestra” is terms of musical sound and manipulation, it makes up for it in showing the band is able to talk about heavy topics in their signature “childish” way.

Rating: (4.5/5)

 

Rob Le Cates can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.

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About the Contributors
Rob Le Cates
Rob Le Cates, Editor-in-Chief
Rob Le Cates is a junior journalism major. He previously served as summer editor-in-chief, photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.
Ashanti Thomas
Ashanti Thomas, Photographer
Ashanti Thomas is a senior digital media major. She previously served as photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.

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