If you haven’t heard of or listened to a single AJR song, then I’d have to ask you what rock you’ve been living under for the past six years. AJR—a band of three brothers, Adam, Jack and Ryan—have recently released their third full-length album, Neotheater, and it's chock-full of good sounds and important messages. They’re well-known for their funky techno sound that often incorporates soundbites from popular cartoon characters to keep their music original. They blew up in 2013 when their single “I’m Ready,” featuring SpongeBob SquarePants himself, played on Sirus XM’s Top 20 on 20.
Although their newest album has yet to top any charts, its lyrics hold meanings that everyone can relate to.
- "Don't Throw Out My Legos"
Can we keep my Legos at home?
'Cause I wanna move out
I don't wanna move on
An ode to growing up, but not growing out. We all have that special toy that signifies our childhood, whether it be Legos, Barbies, action figures or Rubik’s Cubes. One day, we grow up and away from these things but no matter how old we get, we never grow out of the childlike wonder they brought us. Whether the toys are literal or just a symbol for childhood in general, “Don’t Throw Away My Legos” is about moving into adulthood—because no matter how ready we think we are, growing up is hard.
- "Break My Face"
In an age that sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) can be obsessed with physical appearance and beauty, “Break My Face” reminds us—with a funky beat—that our worth is more than skin deep. They add a twist on the usual advice, ‘what doesn’t kill you’ and ‘when life gives you lemons,’ showing that even when those two classics go wrong, you are still who you’ve always been.
So if I break my face, it ain't my darkest day
My face is just my face
The song is an anthem to uplift you, concealed by unique sounds and carefully crafted lyrics. As they say, even if you roll your eyes at every phony line and your eyes roll out of your head, at least you won’t be able to cry.
Being a young adult in this modern climate is probably the most stressful thing… ever. From the actual climate being in jeopardy, to having to find a well-paying job, it can seem like the stress is never-ending. “Karma” is a beautiful song about the not-so-beautiful parts of life.
I've been so good, but it's still getting harder
I've been so good, where the hell is the karma?
The singer is talking, narrating all of his anxieties and struggles to a therapist. It may feel that no matter how hard we work, no matter how neighborly we are, no matter how good we are, we will constantly be disappointed by any shortcomings we have. The reality of these feelings come alive in the beautiful music and lyrics of this song.
- "Finale (Can't Wait to See What You Do Next)"
Well, congratulations on your bit of success
We can't wait to see what you do next
Where “Karma” speaks to the internal struggle of worth, this song speaks to the external struggle of worth. We’ve all been that person before who has put in 110 percent effort constantly, only to have others still want more out of us. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed and like all the work you put in was pointless. “Finale” sheds light on the give-and-take relationship between consumers and the creative minds they are feeding on.
I gave 'em hell
Now they want something bigger
Not only is it the 12th and final song of the album, but it's possibly the last song the band could make. With success not guaranteed, they wish you well and hope you won’t forget the joy they have brought you.
AJR is currently touring the U.S. with Neotheater and the album is available on Spotify, Google Play Music and iHeart Radio. I strongly encourage streaming it, because we really can’t wait to see what they do next.