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AJR Raises Questions of Artist Authenticity

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AJR’s new sophomore album The Click is a rather controversial piece of work. You either hate it or love it. Some critics, amongst those ARTV and Spectrum Pulse from YouTube, have given it a one star rating out of five, while others from music review sites such as salutemag.com and nusoundonline.com say that the album is the best of the year so far.

AJR is an indie pop group from New York City with a DIY (Do It Yourself) approach to their music that has given them much more flexibility regarding which effects they incorporate into their tracks. These eccentricities in style are highlighted by their polyphonic overtone singing and melodic launchpad combinations, the latter of which also serves as a venue to creatively portray compositions inspired by artists such as The Beach Boys, F.U.N, and Imagine Dragons. 

Their new album’s theme was to express the struggles of today’s young millennials as they face conflicting expectations and personal desires concerning their professional futures while still cradling a nostalgia for their past childhood. AJR, however, managed to paint this picture of the modern young adult with light, upbeat tunes which mirror the attitudes of this generation’s approach towards these life defining issues, which makes the album a not only fun, but also relatable listen.

Incidentally, the main disagreement in opinion regarding The Click’s value revolves around both its musical composition and the song lyrics’ message.

While AJR’s use of wild vocal warps and switches between simple and impromptu instrumental breaks to make their melodies do help them create a more original note, some believe that these styles mimic those of Jon Bellion, Twenty One Pilots, and Kendrick Lamar too closely. The explanation that most negative critics give for this review of the band is related to the Warner Bros. Records’ sponsorship of the group, and how most of their tunes are therefore aimed to attract modern indie pop fans by making them audio friendly enough to put on Disney or any of the other corporate giant’s clients’ commercials and make more profit from them.

These allegations are only made more credible when taking into consideration the ambiguous, uncertain stance left at the album’s last track, without the artists’ encouragement of any attempt to take definitive action against the issues that the young generation faces, instead choosing to adopt a neutral bohemian tone throughout the entire piece.

Although it might have been the band’s intention to do this in order to portray what they believe to be the accurate perspective of the young generation, it can also be argued that this message was purposefully left inconclusive so as to not offend any viewers of the band’s main sponsor, and thereby denigrates the album’s authenticity by having its main aim be gaining profit and fame, rather than portraying an honest opinion. The implications of the latter cause critics to worry that the band is promoting whimsical indifference amongst young adults in the modern day world, especially considering today’s strongly divided stances in politics, religion, and human rights.

Regardless of the true intentions behind this selection, The Click has certainly placed AJR onto the spotlight, with their most popular track ‘Weak’ amassing 23 million views after coming out with its official music video on YouTube. They will be performing on their next tour destination on Sunday October 8th as part of the Austin City Limits Music Festival 2017 in Texas. While they have not released any information on if or when they plan to release their next production, they will have to keep in mind that they now have a larger, more attentive audience that will be reacting to their work.

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AJR Raises Questions of Artist Authenticity