Graphic: Anthony Myers, 42Fifty.

Rating: 4.5/5

AJR is an American pop band that was created in 2005 by the Met brothers Adam Met, Jack Met, and Ryan Met. They gained popularity in 2012 with their first hit “I’m Ready,” reaching 65 on Billboard’s top 100 and getting three platinum records. The band started writing, producing and mixing their own music in the living room of their apartment in Manhattan. They started with a harmonica, a piano, and a bass, but now they play a variety of musical instruments. They began their journey playing covers from popular indie bands such as Twenty One Pilots and Jon Bellion. The artists strayed away from the indie genre with their albums “The Click” (2017) and “Neotheater” (2019) and have started to stray more toward the alternative genre. 

“When we first started writing together, we just wanted to emulate our favorite artists and styles,” Ryan said in an interview with Songwriter Universe. “We went through our Beach Boys phase, then hip-hop, then more theatrical Broadway stuff. Everything came together five years ago when we developed a sound that is a combination of all the styles we’ve worked in the past 13 years. When ‘I’m Ready’ took off, we made a conscious decision to write songs about subjects that most songwriters wouldn’t think about.”

The Click and Neotheater  put them back on the charts and redefined a genre that was starting to become outdated. Both of these albums cover serious topics, such as alcohol abuse, child abandonment, and becoming an adult. 

These albums have a combined total of 29 songs, but just about all of these songs are memorable in some way. Even though most of these songs are fantastic, I won’t be reviewing all of the songs. Instead, I will do a general review of both albums.

Both of these albums convey messages about some very profound topics but do so in a way that doesn’t feel forced. AJR uses a variety of instruments and major chord progression to make the topics seem upbeat. Every song feels unique compared to the other songs on the album. 

Songs such as “Weak”, “ Drama”, and “100 Bad Days” collectively deal with the same topic of daily life problems that everyone has to deal with. These songs all cover the same themes of depression and sadness, but they mask them with cheery vocals, smooth instrumentals, and upbeat dubstep beats. The songs mentioned perfectly display how well AJR uses their vast array of talent to convey the deep messages of their songs.

Even though most of their songs cover these serious topics, they have other songs that aren’t so serious. Specifically, “Don’t Throw Out My Legos,” a song about the members of AJR moving out of their parent’s house, but pleading for them not to throw away their legos because they don’t want to get rid of their childhood.  This song is one of their more comedic songs, as it genuinely makes me laugh when I listen to it. 

The main issue with these albums, however, is that they change the tone way too much. A change in tone is a good thing because it can draw emotion out of the listener, but if you do it too often then it can cause problems with how said listener feels and it can destroy the emotion of the album. 

For example, “Don’t Throw Out My Legos,” a lighthearted song about not wanting to grow up comes right after “100 Bad Days,” a deeper song about having bad days, but having stories to tell about those days. Both of these albums do this constantly where there will be a lighthearted song next to a deeper slower song and then that’ll keep happening and it ruins the emotion that the songs are supposed to carry.  

The album’s overall are very very good and kept me entertained through their entirety. I can listen to these songs over and over again. There are a few large problems that heavily take away from the albums, but the good definitely outweighs the bad. 

Ever since “The Click” and “Neotheater” released, they have changed what alternative music is for the better. AJR continues to bring new elements to the genre and it’ll be exciting to see what they do next. Until then, you can listen to both of these albums on repeat until you get bored. If that ever even happens. 

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