AJR released New Orchestra on March 26 and I was personally not really looking forward to it for the sole reason I feared it would disappoint me the way Neotheater did. I popped in my AirPods (which I always do for new music, I want to hear their stereo intentions) and 45 minutes later, tl;dr, this could be the album for the summer.
Few artists I follow still do overtunes and that is a major nerve I have with modern music, it delivers a great mashup of what’s to come and AJR hands down does the best ones. I never skip them. There isn’t a whole lot to say about it, it’s just a beautiful preview of what’s to come and this one didn’t disappoint.
This is a very good first song, it tackles the feelings we’ve all be feeling lately, and even though it’s message is seemingly a cry for human interaction, it’s upbeat melody feels like it’s trying to curb those feelings for 3 minutes. It also seeks to share a shred of positivity with the sprinklings of “you’re only going up from here”.
3 O’Clock Things
First and foremost, the backup vocals on this track just speak to my soul, they are just mixed so well and make me want to keep listening. As for the message, it pretty much picks up where Bummerland left off and discussed the last year in a song and again, felt like an almost 4-minute break. Finally, it is just a relatable ballad, we all experienced it and it makes it just that much more of a hook.
The somber melody of this song sets the stage for its lyrics so well. AJR seems to have one song on every album that tackles modern love and the hopelessness it can leave us feeling. I also like how they tackle how the relationships we observe as kids shapes and, let’s be honest, warps our perception of a relationship. Out of all of the songs on this album, this one is probably my favorite because it tackles something we’re all still trying to figure out.
I enjoyed this song so much, this played like top tier pettiness and I was honestly here for it. As I was listening, I was just like “you tell ‘em!” and it felt like talking to a best friend about someone from high school. This one resonated with me so much, this was probably the “comfort food” track of the album to me. The melody was a tiny bit weak to me, I would have liked something a tiny bit punchier although it does pick up nicely at the end.
Adventure Is Out There
This was honestly a weaker track to me, just like Joe, I felt this deserved a little bit more zest in the melody. I liked the message, but it really felt like something that would be over a time lapse of one of those TikTok van life builds. It had a very strong chorus, but that alone wasn’t enough to place high to me.
Bang! Is obviously supposed to be the banger track for the album, but TikTok picked it up when it was a single, and by the time it was out on the album, I was already sick of it. It is very catchy, and I feel the uncertainty of adulthood that they are going for, but it has a very repetitive melody that makes this one of those songs that is quickly tiring. It was originally one of my favorites, but the fact that it feels like it was designed for replayability really turned me off from it.
This song just hit different, I feel like we could all relate to this as middle schoolers, this song just explains the insecurity a lot of us felt back then and I also love the backup vocals so much, again, great mixing. If I had to pick one song from the album to recommend listening to, it’s probably this one.
This played like the flagship song of the album, they brought in what I assume is an orchestra to do the instrumental and it sounds fantastic. As for the message, it is, again, relatable. It discusses how everyone sees us differently based on their own person and it just made me feel.
This has a good melody, but I think the true best part is the chorus. This is something I feel like scream singing in my shower. This song continues the mental health theme of the album, but I feel like it’s probably the most relatable message from the album, but it falls into that trap of repetitiveness, I think the chorus, while it’s great, was repeated one too many times as well.
World’s Smallest Violin
This song is just so appealing to my cerebellum, honestly on first listen, I didn’t even hear the actual lyrics because the melody is rock solid, the violin solos are beautiful, and this is probably the most vocally dynamic from the lead singer and it just plays so well. This is definitely a top three song of the album.
Way Less Sad
I like this song as a whole, it has a very dynamic intro and good lyrics, but I think this was made for the wrong genre. It reads too pop-like when I would expect this message to be delivered alongside a more somber melody, even if it was just the first minute. It could have a slick transition, but it just feels wrong to me.
Christmas in June
I had high hopes for the closing song of the album but this one feels like it falls a little flat. The melody is a bit flavorless for the group and it just plays like another coming of age type song and it just didn’t grab me like the other songs. I won’t skip it if it comes up, but it’s not something I’m shushing others for and subsequently turning up.
New Orchestra was a beautifully crafted return to form for AJR. It took the funky vibes from the melodies of Living Room and the pop grab of The Click and mixes them into ballads that everyone not only will enjoy but can relate to. I also appreciated that the group leaned into mental health situations for this album. It’s been a rough year for everyone, and this album feel like a good escape without feeling too disconnected from reality. This has been playing on repeat since the drop and I could see it easily being the album for the summer.