AJR’s ‘Neotheater’: Theatrical and impactful

(Rolling Stone)

AJR, A New York City indie-pop band of brothers, released the album “Neotheater” on April 26 and it sounds like it came directly out of a Disney movie.

The album encapsulates themes such as love, growing up, mental health and their experience in the music industry. While these topics may seem a bit all over the place, that is the exact opposite of how the album is formatted. The album, when listened to in order, tells a story from birth to success.

On April 29 the band performed songs from “Neotheater” in front of over 500 people for the first day at Bowery Ballroom in New York City.

Fans from all over the United States joined AJR to celebrate the release of the new album. With a new era of music comes a tour in the fall. They’re playing venues that hold thousands of people, so the Bowery Ballroom was a more intimate show than fans will experience during the tour.

While the band didn't play every single song from the album, the fans certainly got a taste of what is to come on tour. Ryan Met, the keyboard player and producer, demonstrated how they produced one of their songs on stage. He showed the beat starting with the sound of keys dropping on the floor, all the way to the full production of “Don't Throw Out My Legos.”

“Neotheater” starts off with a sort of prologue, titled “Next Up Forever.” The song lyrically talks about them experiencing the euphoric feeling of being on the cusp of something great, and the fear of hitting the peak. Before the vocals start, there is a one-minute build-up from a gentle piano that features a voice of affirmations, to a beat reminiscent of the climax of a movie.

“I'm kinda scared to drop this album, let's push it back another week/ I wanna be next up forever, find a way to never hit my peak,” lead singer Jack Met sings.

“Birthday Party” is the second track listed, and it is a song from the perspective of a newborn baby. The song also touches on political topics such as immigration, presidency and racism.

“Bet my ignorance is always bliss/Except ignoring pigment in our skin/ I bet my country's nice to immigrants/And that's just how it is,” Met sings.

“Don't Throw Out My Legos” is a song about growing up and moving out of their home. The lyrics tell a story about moving out and keeping the nostalgic part of their childhood –– Legos –– at their parent’s home. The song goes on to talk about the feeling of not wanting to grow up and away from their parents, as well as the fear of failing and moving back home.

While each song has a unique theme and meaning, the band said that “Turning Out Pt. ii” is emotional for them. The song was written by Ryan Met and is about a breakup in which he realizes he wasn't in love with his ex-girlfriend but was in love with the idea of being loved.

“I think I wasn't in love with you, I think I loved the idea of you/ Though I may be missing the feel of you, I think I probably wasn't in love with you,” Met sings.

The song was received well by their fans, and people were so touched by the lyrics that it brought some to tears.

The band did not perform the song live because they didn't want to make people sad.

“I’m not going to play ‘Turning Out Pt. ii’ because it'd make everyone leave, it’s too sad,” Ryan Met said.

Like the album, the performance was like a glimpse into their story of growth, both mentally and within the music industry. It was a truly theatrical experience that brought people to tears, as well as made people smile and laugh. Some songs were personal and some were slightly comedic, in a way that is unique to them.

“Welcome to the Neotheater, please take your seats,” Jack Met, the lead singer, sings at the beginning of the album.

Rating: 5/5


Madison Appleby is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at madison.appleby@uconn.edu .   She tweets at @madd_journalist