(Photo credits to @ajrbrothers on instagram)

On March 26th band AJR, so named for the three brothers that make up the band, Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met, released their new album OK ORCHESTRA. This is their fourth album, and many people are calling it their best yet. 

The album starts off with “OK Overture,” boldly containing lyrics and melodies from all of the songs that are later in their album. When you listen to this song after you have listened to the rest of the album, you can notice the certain melodies from the different songs being used, and when you watch the music video for this particular song you can see that it very similarly mirrors their Overture music videos for both their album Living Room and The Click. AJR has done a very similar overture for two of their albums, Living Room and The Click, but on their third album, Neotheater, they elected not to have an Overture. 

Following “OK Overture” is “Bummerland,” one of the songs that they released before the album dropped. “Bummerland” describes the quarantine mood, taking a more positive spin on hitting rock bottom. “Bummerland” is one of the many songs on this album where you can hear the melody change from words, to a trumpet, and then to a guitar briefly. To quote one of my friends, “I’d say yeah it’s a bop but it’s got some interesting lyrics.” 

After this we have “3 O’Clock Things,” which is one of their songs that takes a look at the world today, taking place at 3 AM in the morning. This song seems to ring a truth in today’s society, something that AJR isn’t afraid of doing in a song. AJR sings about politics, stating that: “If I keep on talking politics, I’m Hamiliton (without the hits).” And bravely asks, “Would you go running if you saw the real me?” This is a song that is able to strike a chord in everyone, set to an upbeat tempo with boldly candor lyrics. 

Followed by this is “My Play,” one of the saddest songs on the album. This is a slow set song from the perspective of a someone who is examining their parents as they seem to be going through a divorce, and it is causing them to look at their own relationship. While watching the music video we see a smaller version of Jack going through both a fantasy world filled with dinosaurs and spaceships, and we see the other side of the coin, where the fantasy world turns into reality, seeing the things getting packed away. This song encompasses both the feeling of being a kid putting on a play for your parents, and a melancholic sense of peace. 

After this is “Joe,” a new song. This song starts off with the lyrics, “I believed in God back in 8th grade.” The lyrics following begin to describe a person that one of the brothers seem to know and idolize. Afterwards they sing, “Now Joe, do you think I’m cool?” This is something that many people can relate to, as the song describes the feeling of knowing someone much cooler than you and wanting to impress them, something that many people can relate to. 

“Adventure Is Out There” is next on the track list, and it starts off with a sort of beach themed melody, before the singing starts. The song takes a look upon being stuck inside your house, stating “Holey Moley it’s a real do-nothing day.” This song is mellow and one of the few songs that Ryan is singing most of the lyrics, and Jack is singing the chorus, as Jack is the lead singer for the band. The song discusses wanting to go on an adventure, and exploring the world, a feeling that I know many people can relate to, as we’ve all been stuck inside for quite a while, and we’re longing for adventure. 

Next on the list is “Bang!,” which was the first song from OK ORCHESTRA to be released. And while I can say that this song is a bop, it’s also slightly overplayed, but for a good reason. The melody is upbeat and happy, and the lyrics are both fun and painfully honest. This song is very reminiscent of one of their old songs, “Come Hang Out,” which is from their second album, The Click. 

After this is “The Trick,” a new song that starts off differently than the rest of the songs on this album. The start of this song is sung by a higher pitched voice, but then the song swiftly transitions to the artists singing the song, about how they feel like they are fooling everyone around them into thinking that they are someone that they are not. This song, while definitely odd at first glance, is actually one of their better songs, because it feels so completely truthful, like they are holding nothing back from us, telling us everything. 

The next song is “Ordinary-ish People,” which features the Blue Man Group. This song is one of my favorites from the album, because it’s something that I can relate to, and plays upon the theme of what it feels like to go through different phases. They start off by singing about how “Your happy friends call you depressing, ‘Cause you wonder why we’re all alive. Your downer friends think you’re too happy, too happy. ‘Cause you still celebrate sometimes.” This is something that the song plays off of, how it feels to have different types of friends, and feel like you don’t fit in with any of them. This song is an ode to the people who don’t feel like they fit into one sort of stereotype but are pressured into one by today’s society. 

This is followed by “Humpty Dumpty,” one of the most painfully honest songs in this album. It feels like this is their take on their newfound popularity and fame. This song contains the lyric “Remember Vegas, I can’t take another panic episode, When I get off the stage, man.” And when this specific lyric is sung it is very easy to hear the emotion in Jack’s voice as he’s singing, because this is something that happened to them and they decided to write and sing about it, which can be very cathartic, and it really does just feel like this song is them singing about what it feels like to be an artist. 

“World’s Smallest Violin” is the next song on the track list, and it’s my favorite song from this album. It’s a very upbeat tempo sort of song, which is something that I’m noticing I’m saying a lot about the songs on this album, but it’s because it’s true. This song you definitely have to step back and take a look at the lyrics, because while the tempo is upbeat, the lyrics talk about feeling inferior and how other people have done so much more than you and compared to them. Also in the last few seconds of the song the beat gets more and more and more intense and it’s one of my favorite things. 

The next on the list is “Way Less Sad,” which was the last song to be released before the album dropped. This song is how everyone is feeling, I know that it really does speak to me, and the theme of it is that, “I’m not happy yet, but I’m way less sad.” And this is really something that I think is important, and I really think that the message of this song is very important in today’s society. If you go through life thinking that to get better means to get happy, when in reality sometimes getting better or feeling better just means feeling less sad than you were feeling. 

The last song in OK ORCHESTRA is “Christmas in June”, a song that is reminiscent of a song on their last album, Dear Winter. This song describes the feeling of being on tour for an artist and how it feels to miss out on the things that are important with the people around you. It discusses how it feels to live between two different worlds, and have two different things that are pulling you in different directions. As the song states, “I won’t ever let you down, but just in case, can we have Christmas in June.” 

The band will be touring the album in 2022.