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“Way Less Sad” Review: AJR Shares a Message We All Need to Hear Right Now

Cover of AJR's forthcoming album "OK ORCHESTRA"
Cover of AJR's forthcoming album "OK ORCHESTRA" By Courtesy of AJR/S-Curve Records
By Eliana Lee, Crimson Staff Writer

AJR’s new single “Way Less Sad,” was created entirely from the living room of their New York City apartment. In addition to hit songs such as “Bang!” and “Bummerland,” this track, released on Feb. 17, is from the indie-pop band’s much-anticipated upcoming album, “OK ORCHESTRA." The steady but catchy rhythmic voice of the piano, the upbeat clapping, and the quirky, funky melody of the trumpets welcomes the listener to a vivacious, exciting ambiance — creating that beloved head bop-inducing vibe.

The AJR brothers, Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met express that this track in particular has a special meaning in regards to our current pandemic-ridden lives. “So much of last year felt apocalyptic and this year we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Things aren’t back to normal yet but we should be celebrating the small wins, even if they seem trivial,” the band said in an interview with ABC News Radio.

Following the upbeat, confident introduction, the instrumentals tone down and offer a more intimate musical space for the vocals to enter. Jack goes forth to communicate one of the main messages of the song in the first verse:“And I don’t wanna hurt no more/ So I set my bar real low,” expressing the exhaustion of continuously hoping to reach happiness. The lyrics of the subsequent pre-chorus are powerfully relatable: “ I’m a-okay, I’m a-okay/ You say it but you just don’t mean it/You’re so insane, you’re so insane/ Shut up and just enjoy this feeling.” The lyrics acknowledge that it’s really okay to not be okay, that we all aren’t perfectly okay, and that we should not only communicate this but also accept it and be grateful for every small moment of happiness amidst the hardship.

The underlying beat builds up to the chorus, with the re-emergence of the energetic trumpets, “hey-hey-hey’s,” and drum beats. The chorus’ lyrics are honest and optimistic: “ Don’t you love it don’t you love it/ No I ain’t happy yet/ But I’m way less sad.” AJR presents a fresh perspective to our currently melancholic and bleak world, that although we are far from happy, we shouldn’t necessarily feel sad. Instead, we should embrace the gifts of every day, even if they feel small or unimportant.

The rest of the song maintains an uplifting and bright tone, created by the harmonious combination of rhythmic piano, spirited trumpets, underlying drums and bass, and the joining of multiple voices in the chorus. “Way Less Sad'' communicates an incredibly relatable message that speaks to the feeling of struggling to hold on and withstand this prolonged period of social isolation and uncertainty. It reminds us that although life isn’t perfect, the little things that brighten up each day are enough for us to “shut up and just enjoy this feeling.”

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