AJR have grown a lot as artists since debuting with the ridiculously catchy ‘I’m Ready’ in 2014 which a lot of people assumed was just a gimmicky pop track. But instead it was a smart (and slightly annoying) genre pushing track that implemented some cool DIY themes. From there the three-piece have released a string of experiential and catchy tracks that keep jumping to new heights. It’s only been a year since they released the deluxe edition of their sophomore record ‘The Click’ and the New York brothers have already got a new album ready to unleash into the world. ‘Neotheater’ is yet again a very different and unique affair that hears them pushing the boundaries further with their DIY genre. Album opener ‘Next Up Forever’ perfectly sets the tone with a very dramatic and cinematic production that cites influences from Broadway Musicals. It’s a song that will have you on the edge of your seat questioning where it’s going to sonically go whilst they make some honest confessions. “I’m kinda scared to drop this album, let’s push it back another week”. From there they get a little weird on ‘Birthday Party’, ‘Break My Face’ and ‘Beats’ which are ultimately forgettable whilst ‘Karma is a song you would expect from Sheppard but on some serious steroids which isn’t really a compliment.
However when they get the balance of experimentation and cinematic production right, it’s really RIGHT. ‘100 Bad Days’ is an anthem in it’s own right. The sentiment behind the hook is perfect and will linger on your mind for the rest of the day. “A hundred bad days made a hundred good stories. A hundred good stories make me interesting at parties”. ‘Don’t Throw Out My Lego’s’ is a unique look at growing up and trying to hold onto your childhood in a very honest and pure way which will tug on your heart strings. Whilst ‘The Entertainment’s Here’ has a very mature and cool concept in it’s own way. “I used to be distracted by my favourite song. I loved it very much, I made the song my alarm. And now I kinda hate hearing it ever morn, don’t wake up anymore, don’t wanna be bored”. They give you the classic singalong track on ‘Wow, I’m Not Crazy’ which wouldn’t surprise me if it became a future single. But tying the record together is the quirky ‘Turning Out Pt ii’ and ‘Dear Winter’ before ‘Finale (Can’t Wait To See What You Do Next)’ brings back the theatrical musical sound which represents the diverse sounds this record embodies. AJR have definitely matured a lot as a band over time however it feels like they are trying too hard to be experimental now that it doesn’t really feel as genuine as it used to. This record has it’s strong moments but it also has it’s fair share of forgettable moments.