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Black & White
The Maine Black & White
Released 25 March 2011
Producer Howard Benson
Label Sire, Action Theory
Length 35:21
Genre Pop, rock
Website www.wearethemaine.net
13

Generic is probably the least derogatory word I can use here, so let's just call The Maine 'generic'. But if I can proceed to talk about them a little more obtusely, let's just say that with the Black & White album comes a CD inlay containing all The Maine's lyrics that also folds out into a cute wall poster of the guys, which, presumably, were I a tweenage American girl from the Mid West, I could spend countless hours in my bedroom staring adoringly at. So talk of The Maine's musical accomplishment mightn't really matter anymore.

Honestly, I think I've said all I really want about The Maine in three sentences but some sort of verbiage is necessary for review's sake so I guess, needs must, I'll continue. The music's tepid, the production on point, the rock half-hearted and the lead vocalist's voice not too shabby but aside from that... I'm not sure if pop rock from the hollow den of a Middle American advertising strategy will translate that well over here. And I can imagine even the least astute Irish teenager gawping open-mouthed in horror at some of The Maine's lyrical content. With the track list varying thematically between songs about wanting hot-hot sex, making romantic mistakes, and being 'ohhhhh soooo younnnggg' (and unfortunately not in a Patti Smith 'My Generation' way), frankly, I was abhorred.

Now, don't get me wrong, if you hummed a few bars, I'd probably sing along, but the catchiness inherent to every song by The Maine can't disguise a concurrent cringe inducing quality to each. 'Right Girl' is an ode to "doing the wrong thing to the right girl" (who apparently is "the kind of girl you steal from the football team") and who alas after the song's belittling affair ends up in a loveless marriage with another man; "Went to marry some guy she had talked about / a tear in her dress and a tear in her eye / And just like that her whole life flashed by." While 'Listen To Your Heart' is a plea from one teenage love to another to elope "Your father / He says I'm not good enough / Your mother / She thinks that this is just a phase / I think that we should run away." And 'Give It To Me' addresses a coquettish youth with the verse "That when pretty boys try to get next to you / They really just want to have sex with you", "That sinful stare / Your poison kiss / Like Satan's daughter's holy lips."

You may have begun to get the awful, awful picture.

A bit like a slightly more reproachable version of The Goo Goo Dolls, or an infinitely more diabolical attempt at the really-quite-good Matthew Sweet's recording output, everything is heartfelt, overwrought and a little disturbing in Black & White almost to a level of pastiche with as much trite, niche marketed sop as an episode of Party of Five.

Off I go to wash my ears out.

- Cormac O’Brien