‘Sticky’ — Another Excellent Single from The Maine
One of the Arizona rock group’s greatest strengths is using singles to transition into new eras.
This past Thursday, the Maine released their new single “Sticky,” a track from their upcoming LP XOXO: From Love and Anxiety in Real Time. The single, a quick, upbeat slice of pop rock, is pretty much what you would expect from the Arizona rockers. It’s catchy and danceable, a happy little number that would feel right at home on the band’s last effort, 2019’s You Are OK. But that’s typically what The Maine do on the first single of any era: they give you something comfortable to slip into.
This started back with the release of “Some Days” off of the band’s third record Pioneer. At that time, the band was in a battle with the major label that had signed them and released Black & White. With The Maine deciding to release their new album on their own, I had expected a wild departure from the sound they had created for two records. Then, I listened to “Some Days.” I remember it vividly.
I was so excited to see what The Maine had cooked up, but my family had just moved, and the internet had not been hooked up at our new place yet. So I drove to the public library only to find it was closed. I sat outside the front doors with my iPod and a weak wi-fi signal and listened to…a song that could have fit right in on Black and White. Sure, there was a bit more grit, a southern rock vibe to the track, but it was a fairly simple piece of pop rock. I couldn’t believe that this was the wild sound that Warner Bros. had fought the band over. “Some Days” remains one of my favorite songs from The Maine, but it just wasn’t that different.
Then, I heard the rest of Pioneer. I suddenly understood. The album was indeed a country-fried rock album with flavors of Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and CCR. Not exactly a wild departure, but definitely the type of album that wasn’t going to land a single on the Billboard chart, which was at that time dominated by Kesha, Katy Perry, and Maroon 5. Pioneer was a direct response to an industry that was trying to shape bands into the next All-American Rejects, and it was a damn good one.
But The Maine couldn’t simply put out something like “When I’m At Home” or “While Listening to Rock & Roll…”. They made sure that their fans would have a little taste of the new sound while making sure that there was something familiar to guide them into the new era. It was a brilliant move, and a great choice for a first official single (they released “Don’t Give Up on Us” for free some time before that).
Thus began a new pattern for The Maine and their choices for the singles that introduced each new era. “Happy” (Forever Halloween) felt like a sibling song to “My Heroine” and “Some Days.” “English Girls” (American Candy)had a similar vibe to Can’t Stop Won’t Stop while showcasing the musicianship that the band picked up on Pioneer and Forever Halloween. “Bad Behavior” felt like an updated version of “English Girls,” but hinted at the slightly darker, “emo” vibe of Lovely Little Lonely. “Numb Without You” wouldn’t have been out of place on Lovely Little Lonely — save for the string quartet that accompanied the band’s typical drums/guitar/bass approach.
And now, we have “Sticky,” a track that’s as danceable as any song from You Are OK. The staccato guitar lick that opens the song is reminiscent of the riff in “Tears Won’t Cry,” and it’s got the carefree tone of “Everything I Ask For” from the band’s first LP. And, as the title suggests, the song is undeniably catchy, having been stuck in my head since Thursday and in no danger of being evicted. It’s a true ear worm.
The Maine remains one of the best bands working today, and much of that is due to the thought and dedication put into every aspect of what they do. The band doesn’t half ass anything, and that includes choosing singles as era introductions. Every single one they’ve released has been a perfect blend of familiarity and novelty, an excellent teaser of what’s to come. If “Sticky” is any indication, XOXO is going to be another solid effort by a band that just doesn’t seem to miss.
“Sticky” is available to stream now. ‘XOXO: From Love and Anxiety in Real Time’ coming July 9th, 2021. Pre-orders are available here.