AJR, an indie pop band consisting of brothers Adam, Jack and Ryan Met (hence the name), has been making strides in the past couple of years.
While their albums “Living Room” (2015), “The Click” (2017) and “Neotheater” (2019) have been met with moderate success, their popularity has skyrocketed within the past year.
They first found their success growing when “Neotheater” debuted at number eight on the Bill-board 200 and hit number one on the Top Rock Albums chart.
On Feb. 12 of last year, AJR released a single called “Bang!” which almost immediately found its way towards a variety of charts, ultimately peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 on Jan. 22 of this year.
This was followed by the release of “Bummerland” on Aug. 31, which served as a quarantine anthem of sorts. However, fans were in for a massive treat on Dec. 20, when AJR announced that their fourth album, “OK Orchestra,” was to be released on March 26.
This was shortly followed by “My Play” on Dec. 22. “Bang!,” “Bummerland” and “My Play” would be among the singles featured on “OK Orchestra,” but one last single for the album, “Way Less Sad,” was released on Feb. 17.
Following the release of “OK Orchestra,” the album immediately skyrocketed to a variety of charts, including alternative charts on Pandora and Apple Music.The album opens with “OK Overture,” a rich beginning which includes a melody that pieces together bits and pieces from the other songs featured on the album.
Following the overture is “Bummerland,” one of the singles released prior. This song tells listeners that we “better nix our summer plans,” due to the ongoing COVID crisis.
Next is “3 O’Clock Things,” which touches on many doubts and ramblings that happen at 3 a.m. “It’s kind of funny how I paid for college when YouTube was an option,” Met sings.
“My Play” is the next on this al-bum, which serves as a sort of melancholy ballad about performing a play for their parents as young children. However, this is quickly turned around by the quirkiness that “Joe” has in its lyrics.
“Adventure Is Out There” is the next song on “OK Orchestra” and is the first song that features another voice. Jack serves as the main vocals in AJR, but Ryan’s voice is sampled at times, with this song being an example of that.
Following “Adventure Is Out There” is the aforementioned fan favorite, “Bang!” which announces, “so put your best face on every-body, pretend you know this song, everybody,” and tells us “let’s go out with a bang!”
Next on the album is “The Trick,” another uniquely quirky song to the mix.“Ordinaryish People” follows, and has a vibe that represents that of a big band from the jazz era, before descending into a drum frenzy thanks to guest artist The Blue Man Group.
Next on the lineup is “Humpty Dumpty,” which takes a spin on the classic tale. “Humpty Dumpty went down, he said ‘screw it, imma smile right through it, and scream when no one’s around’” is the chorus in the midst of a song about putting up a façade in public and breaking down alone – all backed up with a catchy beat.
“World’s Smallest Violin,” which had a music video released alongside it, is another spin on the idea that when one is complaining about problems that aren’t real issues, they are playing the world’s smallest violin. The lyrics deal with feeling sorry for oneself while simultaneously feeling as though your problems are not worthwhile compared to others.
“Way Less Sad,” a sequel of some sorts to “Bummerland,” is the penultimate song on the album, where they state, “no, I ain’t happy yet, but I’m way less sad.”
“Christmas in June,” a lovely and jovial piece, is the perfect finishing touch to “OK Orchestra.”
Overall, AJR released a very enjoyable album with clever and thought-provoking lyrics contrasted by playful orchestration.
I was first introduced to AJR by my friend from high school the summer before my freshman year at Mercyhurst. I was in “Bummerland” waiting for new music from them, but now I’m “Way Less Sad” now that “OK Orchestra” is out. Every time I listen to it, I feel like “Adventure Is Out There,” and I can always end my day with a “Bang!”