Maroon 5 is one of those bands that’s hard to escape whether you want to or not. They’re songs are always on the radio, their videos are constantly being played, and they dominate the charts. But lately it’s been all about frontman Adam Levine. His half naked pictures are splashed across magazines and he can be seen regularly on The Voice. And that’s what you get on this album. This dance filled record should Levine’s solo album, rather than being released under the Maroon 5 moniker.
Fan’s who have followed the band since their debut in 2002 will be pretty disappointed to hear how they step away from their original sound on this record. Rather than smoothly mixing together elements of rock, pop, and r&b, the sound here is dance focused and follows the electronic music trend of late. Awesome guitar solos are replaced with vapid booms and beeps from a synthesizer. It gets so bad at times, you can’t even hear the other members of the band. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad if the record stood well on it’s own as a dance album, but unfortunately it does not.
Probably the best song on the album is the opener “One More Night.” As soon as the song starts with Levine cooing “ooh ooh oooh” like a monkey you realize something has changed. While this part is catchy, it also manages to sound a bit ridiculous. The beat of the music and the way Levine sings has a reggae flavor to it. There are moments when “ehs” and “ahs” are uttered that make you think of a Rihanna song. In fact, this sounds like something she would sing. Despite this, the song is catchy and will make you want to move.
From there on the songs sound mostly the same. Just about all of them take influence from dance music and have pretty simple lyrics. Unfortunately, the music sounds like everything else that’s been playing on the radio for the past year and half, so you’re not even hearing anything that will make your ears perk up. “Payphone” sounds like the other pop songs now and leaves you wondering why he’s on a payphone anyway and where did he find one. “Lucky Strike” is another catchy number that finds their old rock style mixed with LMFAO-esque techno music. This song tries really hard to be the band’s anthem with the chorus booming nothing but a crowd singing “oooh-ooh-oh-oh-oh,” while “Fortune Teller” has booming club music mixed in with classic piano, which does not yield a pleasing result.
There are some moments on the album where the band tries to return to their roots, but they don’t get it exactly right. “Sad” is actually a pretty good song that feels out of place here. Here it’s mainly a piano and Levine’s vocals. It seems to be about his recent break up with his super model girlfriend. The song would sound more heartfelt and sincere if the chorus didn’t end with the repetitive line “I’m so sad.” Whenever I hear this line, I just think about writing teachers saying “Show, don’t tell.” And a lot of songs suffer from this problem. I’m not saying he was the best song writer in music, but his past lyrics were more thoughtful and provoking than they are here. Now, the lyrics are simple, repetitive, and at times just cheesy.
Even though the album is dance focused there seems to be a theme to the songs. Of course, Levine sings about sex in most of the songs, but a lot of them seem to deal with his leftover feelings from his recent breakup. The track “The Man Who Never Lied” starts off by describing a fight in public and realizing the relationship is over, while “Beautiful Goodbye” deals with a difficult send off to a lover. While Levine means well in these songs, the message of them seems to get lost in the simple lyrics and electronic beats of the music. It as if he was more concerned with making the songs catchy, while the content took a back seat.
Another problem with the record is that Maroon 5 manages to sound like every other popular artist in music, except for themselves. I already pointed out how the first song sounds similar to Rihanna. The song “The Man Who Never Lied” sounds like something Burno Mars would sing, while the bittersweet closer “Beautiful Goodbye” has the light reggae feel of a Jason Mraz song. The cheesy and horribly pinned “Tickets” has electronic music that sounds like it was stolen was Ke$ha. There are even weird, out of place distorted vocals that will make you scratch your head in confusion.
Overall, the album gets 6.5/10. There are some good songs on here that will get you on the dance floor, but none of them are memorable like their past material. Not only have they moved away from the sound that made them popular, but they couldn’t even put out a stellar dance record. The record sounds rushed, as if Levine decided to embark on his new found fame from “Moves Like Jagger” and The Voice. Maybe if they would’ve taken another year to work on it or if Levine would admit it’s his solo record, it would be better.