OK Orchestra by AJR came out with a “Bang!”


Image Credit: The Signal (TCNJ)

The cover of AJR’s newest album, OK Orchestra

When my friend aggressively suggested that I should listen to AJR’s newest album OK Orchestra, which she had awaited since the previous album’s release, I knew I had no other choice but to check it out. As someone who enjoys a tune or two from AJR, I “grudgingly” agreed to let the album play. After hearing each of the songs, I have to confess that my friend’s music taste is better than mine.

AJR is never what I would call mainstream music. Despite being fairly familiar with AJR’s unusual yet intriguing style, I was still a little surprised when I heard the atypical intro for the first song “OK Overture.”

The music in the background was unlike anything I had ever heard before. The techno base of “OK Overture” could not have been coupled better with the instrumentals that swapped in or combined with the original base.

In addition to this, “OK Overture” kept me guessing the entire time. I could never predict the next lyrics or beat—it was changing all the time and staying fresh. Although it did not conform with my general music taste, I quickly fell in love with “OK Overture.”

“OK Overture” was by far the zaniest song in OK Orchestra. However, this is not to say that the other songs in the album were boring and unoriginal. They were still unique and new, but their strong suits were elsewhere.

For example, “3 O’Clock Things” had a beat that I was a little more acquainted with. When the lyrics appeared in the song, on the other hand, I was thrown for a loop. 

While AJR has the style of bringing up pressing issues in the world and the U.S., “3 O’Clock Things” felt more personal to the band itself. In this song, the members shared issues of overthinking in the middle of the night that they themselves feel and not things you would see broadcasted on national news. 

Even though I couldn’t relate to all of the lyrics that were sung with lead singer Jack Evan Met’s talented voice, I can see how many people at the members’ stage in life could. 

“3 O’Clock Things” wasn’t the only potentially relatable song. “Joe,” the song I could connect with the most, brought up the fact that in school, people try so hard to be liked by the “cool” or “popular” kids when in the long run, it doesn’t really matter. Even though they are aware of this lesson that seems to be pushed constantly, many still yearn for acceptance. While I’m sure there is more than one song out there about this topic, AJR served this subject on a platter that takes not even a minute to make sense of. 

“Joe” brings together so many specific points and emotions without throwing out the broad theme even once. This is consistent in many of AJR’s songs, especially in OK Orchestra; the lyrics are straightforward, but you have to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together to understand the point of each song.

This is consistent in many of AJR’s songs, especially in OK Orchestra; the lyrics are straightforward, but you have to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together to understand the point of each song.”

Sadly, I have only heard one of AJR’s OK Orchestra pieces played on the radio consistently. However, it is no surprise that “Bang!” should be the one to be publicized the most. Although “Bang!” was released as a single before the rest of the album, it is still considered part of the album.

“Bang!” feels energizing and explosive as it opens up to the struggles of transitioning to adulthood. As pessimistic as some of the lyrics sound, the song is almost a paradox within itself—it is actually kind of a last hurrah about finishing their youth with excitement and fun.

As far as topics go, all of the songs were fairly heavy in OK Orchestra. Thankfully, many of these songs are lightened with either humor or a more positive approach to the music. “Bang!” wasn’t exactly happy sounding, but it was more invigorating than pensive.

One final song from OK Orchestra made me feel less alone—I could fully understand what the song was and that I was not the only one experiencing the feeling of confusion.

“Adventure Is Out There” brought up a topic not commonly covered in the music industry—the act of staying in a routine when you could go on adventures and make so many changes. The song’s creativity shines through by using a metaphor about missing socks and how they are probably out seeing the world.

I always want to seek change and adventure but usually end up being sucked up into the vacuum of routine. I found it extremely interesting that artists would bring up an emotion such as this, but I couldn’t enjoy it more.

Sad and depressing breakup songs didn’t make me feel half of the emotions that songs within OK Orchestra did. The lyrics in the songs were unusual, deep, meaningful, funny, and original all at the same time.

Fortunately, all of my mixed feelings about this song were a mix of positives. I enjoyed every song in the album, which is not something that happens often.

I think listening to AJR’s music will become a “3 O’Clock Thing” of mine.