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"The Maybe Man" on Spotify
"The Maybe Man" song-by-song review
Maybe Man

"I wish I was me, whoever that is/I could just be and not give a sh**/Hey, I'll be whatever makes you a fan/'Cause I don't know who the h*** I am"

As the first song on the album, "The Maybe Man" sets the scene for our unlikely hero, Jack, as he sings a string of dreams and doubts he has for life. Like AJR's previous albums, "The Maybe Man" acts as the overture — but not in the way fans were expecting. Unlike their previous albums, each stanza in The Maybe Man corresponds to a different song in the album:

Verse One: "Touchy Feely Fool," Verse Two: "Yes I'm a Mess," Verse Three: "Turning Out Pt. iii," Verse Four: "Steve's Going to London," Verse Five: "The Dumb Song," Verse Six: "Hole in the Bottom of My Brain," Verse Seven: "The DJ Is Crying For Help," Verse Eight: "I Won't," Verse Nine: "Inertia," Verse 10 and 11: "God is Really Real" and Verse 12: "2085."

In the outro, Jack belts the lyric, "Here I go again," signaling the cycle between life, death and self-discovery is starting once more for the listener and The Maybe Man. While I'm still unsure about the tone change over halfway through the piece, it still a very impactful way to start the album.

Touchy Feely Fool

"I'm screwed/But, hey, what can you do?/I'm a touchy feely fool/I would give anything to not give a sh** about you."

This song is a people pleaser's anthem. Despite the red flags, AJR encapsulates the inability to leave someone with obvious red flags and how it mentally affects an individual. I love when Jack screams his frustrations into the pre-chorus, but it switches back to the happy chorus because a people pleaser will continue please, of course. The more I listened to the song, the more I adapted to the ending, and now I very much enjoy this number.

Yes I'm A Mess

"And I took a job for just July/But feels like I might be here for life/Yeah, I’m in it now, I'm in it now/Could I start again somehow?"

"Yes, I'm A Mess" almost immerses the listener into a western movie set in 2023. From the whistling to the steady drumming, the listener voyages on through life while conscious they are making more of a mess of it. It's relatable and catchy, and you'll find yourself whistling along soon, too.

The Dumb Song

"When we go down/When kingdom come/Don't look at me, don't look at me/I'm just too dumb." 

While this song is called "The Dumb Song," it spotlights the painful feeling of perceiving yourself as "too dumb." With gang vocals inspired by the Beach Boys, horns and guitar give the song a facade of being lighthearted, but also give weight to the insecurity of stupidity.

Inertia

"I'm an object in motion, I've lost all emotion/My two legs are broken, but look at me dance/An object in motion, don't ask where I'm going/'Cause whеre I am goin' is right where I am." 

This is my personal favorite song of this entire album. Inertia focuses on someone who knows their life is messed up but doesn't try to do anything to change the trajectory. This song highlights the numbing experience of living a subpar life and the general feeling of being lost, which is something I can definitely relate to. Though I wish the drums and horns hit harder, it's the song I connect with the most, and I will continue listening to it on repeat.

Turning Out Pt. iii

"'Cause half the time I can't love right/And I'm half yours, and you're all mine."

Turning Out Pt.iii ends a beloved trilogy, written and lived by Ryan Met. After the previous songs question being ready for love and whether the feeling is actually love, this song illustrates the anxiety of wondering if you are on the right path with this person. While this song dances around dreams and doubts, it feels like the big hug Ryan needed and a reminder that love is little, quiet and worth waiting for.

Hole in the Bottom of My Brain

"Heads up, I'm sorry to be that guy/Heads up, I'm lookin' to just get by/Let's just say, let's just say we're fine." 

Inspired by the children's song, “There’s A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea,” this song illustrates the constant feeling of missing something. The dichotomy of a children's song melody while mentioning heavier topics of addiction and struggling mental health is an interesting choice. I didn't agree with it at first until I realized the interesting irony of song. While the lyrics are stronger than the melody in this piece, it deserves a listen.

The DJ is Crying for Help

"Oh, hired, hired, can I get hired?/Yeah, I fu**** up, but I did it my way/I'm tryin', tryin', I can start Friday/Gettin' a life's a little like dyin'."

This is another top pick of the entire album for me, ever since it came out as a single all the way from November 2022. As the song title suggests, the singer is crying for help. They don't know what to do or what step to take next. The violin after the chorus ties seamlessly alongside the gang vocals, and the melodies together sound similar to what a panic attack feels like. As someone who has had panic attacks before, it's almost comforting to find a song that illustrates the internal commotion. This is one of the songs where the powerful music production shines through.

I Won't

"So I do what you tell me to and do it to death/But I can't do this sh** again."

This song is meant get your head banging along with its simple drums and rhythm. With the fast-paced singing, it feels like all the thoughts in the singer's head are finally getting out and recognizing the emotions and ideas they had been holding back. It's a thought-train song — a great song to simply just vibe and sing along with.

Steve's Going to London

"While you try to find some meaning in your life before you die/Here's a bunch of random sh** to waste your time."

This song didn't sell me at first because, unlike the rest of the album, it didn't have the same emotional hold or bigger meaning. But that's part of the point — it serves as the album's brain-empty track: a song about writing song. Add in the gang vocals bringing the song together, and it is a fun listen overall.

God is Really Real

"God is really real when you really, really need Him/Karma just appears when you suddenly believe it." 

This is the most emotional song of the album. Whether you are religious or not, "God is Really Real" highlights the desparation one feels when a loved one is close to the end. You hear it in Jack's vocals, and you hear it in the rise of the guitars and choir. It's a beautiful track for anyone who has ever lost someone.

2085

"So if this is me, then I'll do my best/I'll take all the sh** so you'll never have to/You can be you, and I'll be the rest/Yeah, maybe that's who the h*** I am."

The ultimate conclusion to the album is incredible. While on the first listen it feels as though two songs are strung into one, it works in the context of "The Maybe Man" as a whole. He is able to reflect on what he learned — the value of connection, creativity and constant growth  — and say so in both a warm, guitar-driven piece and a larger-than-life ballad all tied in one song.

One of my favorite aspects of the song is after Jack repeats how "you" need to get better, he states, "I gotta get better; I'm all that I've got." To me, this alludes that there is a part of The Maybe Man in each of us; when we get lost in life, we all need to be reminded that we have to keep going at whatever pace is best for us.

Review: ‘The Maybe Man’ by AJR calls for authenticity in the music industry

AJRs+fifth+studio+album%2C+The+Maybe+Man%2C%C2%A0was+released+Nov.+9.+The+album+follows+band+members+Adam%2C+Jack+and+Ryans+re-examination+of+life+in+their+most+authentic+album+to+date.+Photo+Source%3A+Image+from++The+Maybe+Man+on+Apple+Music.
AJR’s fifth studio album, “The Maybe Man,” was released Nov. 9. The album follows band members Adam, Jack and Ryan’s re-examination of life in their most authentic album to date. Photo Source: Image from “The Maybe Man” on Apple Music.

Disclaimer: AJR’s “The Maybe Man” album may not be appropriate for younger audiences, as it includes explicit language and references to addiction.


Senior year is not only about seeking the unknown territory of the future but also reflecting on the harrowing hypotheticals of the past. As I wrap up my first semester, I am constantly thinking about the overwhelming questions of high school — whether I interacted with a certain person enough or if I should have made a different decision back then. But, am I the only one rethinking my life?

Enter “The Maybe Man,AJR‘s newest album that spotlights a peculiar superhero. AJR is an American indie pop trio of three brothers Adam (bassist), Jack (lead vocals) and Ryan (pianist/vocals/producer) known for their creative music production and relatable songwriting. “The Maybe Man’s” mission is to wrestle with impossible questions: What else could I have done with my life? Who else could I have ended up with? Could things have been different?

Our superhero has no cape, costume or mask. Instead, as illustrated in the opening number’s animated music video, he wears a white t-shirt, blue shorts and his infamous trapper cap. Our hero, Jack, is no imaginary figure — he is someone who looks just like us, and he faces the most relatable, difficult question of all: Who am I?

As their fifth studio album, “The Maybe Man” is their most personal album to date. Within the past two years, the brothers have experienced turmoil in both their career and personal lives, including the death of Gary Met, their father and No. 1 fan. In turn, these personal experiences have inspired their songwriting.

In terms of music production and structure, the album is a stark contrast to their previous album, “OK Orchestra.” Instead of being inventive with computer-generated instruments and sounds, the band opts for real instruments. With the acoustic guitars, trumpets and drums that blend harmoniously within the tracks, AJR quickly transports their listeners to the warm but chaotic landscape of their minds.

Were there aspects I thought were missing from the album? Absolutely.

This album was the first released under their new record label, Mercury Records, whose other artists include Post Malone and Zayn. In comparison to the previous albums’ hard-hitting audio mixing done by Ryan Met under their independent production company, AJR Productions, this album is professionally mixed. Because of this, the drums sound softer and leave less of a satisfying punch when the beats drop in songs like “Inertia.” Moreover, the jarring juxtaposition of the outros in “Maybe Man,” “Yes, I’m A Mess” and “2085” feel detached from melodies earlier in the pieces. 

But none of their previous albums have reached out to the audience quite like “The Maybe Man” has. Because if you must know something about AJR fans — they don’t simply hear the music, they listen carefully to the lyrics in every song. And AJR is aware of this.

Some say AJR lacks the ability to be deep, claiming their songs are the by-product of the generic landscape the pop world has become. I disagree.

I think AJR has a quiet genius to their lyrics. The words scribbled between strumming guitars and choirs of violins may appear simple, but the most obvious truths are the ones we overcomplicate. The Maybe Man’s superpower is to overthink, but through his clever and honest spiraling, the listener can visualize their own insecurities. Above all, by sharing his own self-doubt, “The Maybe Man” comforts the listener with the power of empathy and community. View how “The Maybe Man” uses unique lyrics to connect with the listener in the song-by-song review in the sidebar.

Each song highlights that as we age, connection becomes more important to our lives. The only solo song in the album, “God Is Really Real,” is a testament to Gary’s life and the impact of his death. There is no one else harmonizing with Jack as he sings about the death of his father, highlighting how our hero has finally figured out what truly matters: connection.

There is a purpose to the entire album being a loop with the end of “2085” directly linking back to the beginning of “The Maybe Man.” If the listener forgets what they’ve learned, they can turn to “The Maybe Man” again and again to be comforted by our struggling hero and remind themselves how vital relationships are to life.

Because, as Jack says in both the opening and ending tracks, “for two or three minutes, then I’m gone,” symbolizing the short lifespan we have on earth.

By being their true, unapologetic selves, AJR has reminded everyone how valuable authenticity is in music. Unlike others in the pop industry, AJR always succeeds at being real, which shines through in their music, especially in “The Maybe Man.”

This album isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t need to be. In a chaotic, isolated world, authenticity, relatability and togetherness are key. If you are finding yourself rethinking your life, seeking some form of comfort or if I’ve made you the slightest bit curious about who “The Maybe Man” is, I’d suggest taking a listen.

  • Lyrics
  • Enjoyment
  • Impact
  • Sound Quality
4.3

Summary

American indie pop trio AJR, named after the band’s three brothers Adam, Jack and Ryan, released their fifth studio album, “The Maybe Man,” Nov. 9. In the 12-track album, the trio presents the mind of an unlikely superhero, The Maybe Man, and his journey of existentialism. While the album’s music production was softer and ranged vastly, AJR’s intelligent lyrics emphasize the value of connectivity in a calamitous world.

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About the Contributor
Maia Alvarez, Features Editor
Maia Alvarez joined The Oracle as a staff reporter in 2021 and became the Multimedia Editor in 2022. In 2023, she became the Features Editor. She is on the leadership board for InvenTeam, leads the Best Buddies club, and is a member of the Speech and Debate team. Outside of classes, she practices taekwondo as a second-degree black belt and volunteers as a tutor.

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