Maroon 5 and I haven’t been getting along lately. With a horrible fourth album and a douchey frontman, I finally fell out of love with the band. But there was a time when I couldn’t get enough of them. Their debut isn’t the best pop album ever, but with every song being a hit and tons that make you want to sing along, it’s still their best. Not only are the songs good, but you can hear elements of the band that simply don’t exist in the current carnation. Here, they manage to sound like a band instead of a vanity project.
Somewhere down the line, the guys became know for their dirty songs. What’s refreshing about this record is not every song is drenched in sex. Of course there are some that reference it, but “This Love” is the only one that explicitly talks about it. Ten years later this song still sounds great. The odd, bounciness of the music and Levine’s singing makes the song seem so innocent, until you hear lines like “I’d try my best to feed her appetite/keep her cumming every night/so hard to keep her satisfied.” It’s one of those lyrics where you say it without thinking and then pause and go “What did he just say?!” It’s what I like to call sneakily dirty. Unlike their current songs where the quest for sex is obvious, this track masks it with clever lyrics and a good hook.
Though the album may not solely focus on sex it does talk about relationships. What keeps the theme from getting dull is how each song looks at a different point of a relationship, like the first encounter or a nasty break up. Some of the songs are good, but don’t manage to stand out from the other tracks (“The Sun” and “Must Get Out”), but there are others that are great. “Not Coming Home” has a sleek, sexy guitar riff that brings out their edgy side; Levine’s fed up attitude adds to the overall feel. The only thing that’s annoying here is the live audience cheers featured throughout. Per the liner notes, it was recorded live at one of their shows, but why they included this version instead of the studio one is beyond me.
One of my favorite songs is “Sunday Morning” with bright, upbeat music and the feel good lyrics that make you happy. It’s something you put on when the sun is shining and you’re feeling awesome. It makes you want to dance and sing. The additional horns that come in during the bridge just adds to this feeling and gives it more of a jazzy sound. Everything about the song is lovable and is sure to put a smile on your face. “She Will Be Loved” is a soft, bittersweet song about a troubled girl. Something about the whole mood is just relaxing and nice. “Through With You” seems to be about a nasty break up. The harsh music and Levine’s pissed off singing emphasizes this tone. There’s a finality to the music and the lyrics that makes perfect sense with what he’s talking about.
Another thing that makes the LP great is how you can hear every element of the band somewhere on the album. My biggest complaint with their 2012 release was it sounded like a Levine solo record with the rest of the guys as his back up band. Here, you can actually hear what each member adds: the pulsing drums on “Tangled” and the cool keys on “This Love.” Levine’s singing isn’t as annoying here either. Whereas now it sounds like he’s singing through his nose, here it’s subtle. I especially like his singing on “Harder to Breath” because he tried to vary his sound. He does the same for the standout track “Secret” where he goes into light falsetto for some parts. It’s hard to explain, but it sounds like they’re an actual band here. This feeling is something that slowly disappeared throughout their later albums.
The album ends with “Sweetest Goodbye.” It’s sappy and kind of cheesy with lyrics like “I’ll never leave you behind/or treat you unkind/I know you understand.” Still, this isn’t as cheesy as his writing on the last album (see “Fortune Teller”). What keeps the track from getting dull are the hard guitars that come in during the chorus when Levine sings “Pushing forward and marching back/Brings me closer to heart attack.” It may not be the best song here, but it ends the LP nicely.
Overall, the album gets 8/10. Having listened to it now, I don’t love it as much as I did back in 2004. But I still think it’s a good pop record and one that I still enjoy a lot. It reminds me when Maroon 5 had some potential, with a cute, kind of geeky guy singing. The songs are still enjoyable and a blast to sing out loud if you’re bored. Ever since its release, it feels like the band have been trying to recapture whatever made this album so good. They haven’t found it since. This remains their strongest album and ultimately, the one they’ll be remembered for, even if it is just because it made them popular.