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Neotheater

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AJR 5/3/2019

Review

The third album from AJR, 2019's thoughtfully buoyant Neotheater, finds the trio of multi-instrumentalist siblings Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met coloring their effusive pop with themes of twenty-something angst and grappling to find one's place in what can feel like a scary world. The album nicely evokes Fun.'s Some Nights; it feels similarly driven by the ennui of millennial helicopter kids caught between the security of living at home and the terrifying promise of life on their own -- or at least in a dorm room. It's also quite musically accomplished, with nods to musical theater, classical, dance-pop, hip-hop, and indie folk. It doesn't hurt either that AJR balance their earnest inclinations with a wry sense of irony and clever skepticism. On "Birthday Party" they imagine the thoughts of a newborn baby who naively assumes a series of truths singing, "I bet it's always gonna stay this fun/I bet it's easy staying 'way from drugs/I bet our parents always stay in love," and more pointedly, "I bet this Instagram's a load of fun," and "I bet my country's nice to immigrants." Similarly, on "100 Bad Days" they ruminate on the aphorism that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger by zeroing in on that in-between time when we've almost made it through, but not quite, singing "We had to work a bit more hard, only just to get a little bit less far/We could laugh about it all tomorrow, couldn't we?" Elsewhere, they meditate on the mixed feelings of moving into your first apartment on the bittersweet "Don't Throw Out My Legos," and humorously celebrate finding your soulmate on "Wow, I'm Not Crazy," singing "Frankly I'm scared of clowns, and get-togethers get me down, but when you talk 'Wow, it's like I'm not crazy." There's a specificity to the way AJR have zeroed in on the millennial twentysomething state-of-mind that reinforces the notion that they are writing truthfully and from a sincere emotional place. That sincerity, paired with AJR's clever turn-of-phrase and hooky pop optimism, means Neotheater never sounds anything less than refreshing. ~ Matt Collar
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Next Up Forever AJR 4:16
  3. 2 Birthday Party AJR 3:43
  4. 3 100 Bad Days AJR 3:30
  5. 4 Don't Throw Out My Legos AJR 4:10
  6. 5 Break My Face AJR 3:43
  7. 6 Turning Out, Pt. 2 AJR 3:43
  8. 7 The Entertainment's Here AJR 3:6
  9. 8 Karma AJR 4:4
  10. 9 Beats AJR 3:17
  11. 10 Wow, I'm Not Crazy AJR 3:15
  12. 11 Dear Winter AJR 2:48
  13. 12 Finale (Can't Wait to See What You Do Next) AJR 4:37

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