Growth, whether artistic or personal, is a necessity among humanity. Across the lifespan of the planet, thousands of different species have become extinct due to an inability to adapt to the constantly revolving climate of the Earth. And humans are mostly the same, just on a much lower scale. The inability for a person to change is a showcase of supreme weakness, and stagnation can lead to a variety of different negative outcomes, from rejecting a doctor's advice and dying as a result, to trying to chase the success of a one-hit wonder and consequently becoming creatively bankrupt. Within the span of 50 years, America went from the world's most powerful country to a complete laughing stock, because they refused to adapt to new political ideologies and tanked both foreign and domestic American life, whereas previously underdeveloped nations did the opposite. So, whether the effects of stagnation are major or minor, a refusal or inability to change has the potential to cause havoc.
Today is March 26th, 2021. There have been one thousand, six hundred, and forty-seven days between today and September 16th, 2016, the release date of the song Weak. And AJR hasn't changed one bit.
With OK Orchestra, AJR continue to trivialize serious and potentially emotional themes by making music with absolutely zero subtlety. Rather than craft artistic statements with personified lyricism, and lay out great vocal talent and creative production ideas, the trio once again put on rose-tinted glasses across the project's 46 minute length, and baby the listener with watered-down writing, tacky production, and obnoxiously expressive vocals. It's difficult to take AJR's attempts at emotion seriously when the music treats you like a fucking moron. And it's not bad to analyze life with an optimistic outlook either. But OK Orchestra equates AJR's issues to typical, day-to-day minutiae, due to its bare bones lyrics, Jack's lackadaisical vocal cadence, and the obnoxious attempts to be "wacky", and "kooky". Expressing grievances about past relationships, lost opportunities, or the fears of adulthood through overly uppity metaphors about lost socks and Humpty Dumpty makes it seem as if these problems aren't too problematic at all. The lyrical themes on OK Orchestra are executed awfully, and crashes the replayability and enjoyability of the record through the floor.
As the title suggests, OK Orchestra is populated by tons of orchestral instrumentation. It's common to see songs packed with string sections, trumpets, pianos, even some steel drums show up on the opener. But whereas Weezer used OK Human's orchestral production to provide a constant stream of luscious melody, as well as heighten its spare emotional moments, AJR have once again weaponized orchestral production to consistently create waves of hellish noise, that even borders on parody with how over-the-top ecstatic it is. The sheer amount of bombast that takes center stage with OK Orchestra is able to transform previously calm meditations to senseless, empty-headed collages of sound that lack any sort of thought. It isn't completely out of the question for AJR to show off a creative piece of production, captivating lyrical ideas, or Jack's massively improved falsetto, as it happens more often than you'd expect. But these spare moments of genius are always, ALWAYS undercut by overproduced and overperformed bombshells of beats, more focused on grand presentation than actually being listenable, and it's absolutely frustrating. There's a difference between dumb fun and just dumb, and OK Orchestra is dumb as a sack of bricks.
With Imagine Dragons and The Chainsmokers having been booed off the face of the Earth, Jack, Ryan, and Adam Met stand as the last bastion of over-the-top, trend-surfing millennial pop. Whereas most of the world have moved on to better alternatives, AJR haven't, and continue to struggle to evolve artistically, just as they struggle with moving on from their adolescence and transitioning to adulthood. They opt to hide away within the colorful candyland they've created, rather than come face to face with the real-world problems that plague them. And the result is the most vapid of contemporary pop. Devoid of any sort of thought-provoking lyricism, noteworthy production ideas, and exceptional vocal talent, OK Orchestra is the anti-Trench: a musical de-evolution from its predecessors that showcases a supreme lack of maturity and artistic growth. Absolutely despicable.
Favorite Track(s): None
Least Favorite Track: Ordinaryish People