This review is long overdue. With school starting up and training for a new job I couldn’t find time to write it sooner. Plus, after listening to the album a few times I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to talk about it. But I decided to share my thoughts on the new LP. I’ve been pretty clear about how much I hated Overexposed. In fact, it’s part of the reason I fell out of love with the band. I wasn’t expecting much with this album, but they do a decent job. It’s nowhere near the awesomeness of their debut and there are times where it’s all over the place, but it manages to pull off some catchy songs, which is something Maroon 5 still knows how to do well.
“Maps” is one of those songs you’ll like one minute and then won’t the next. It’s pretty catchy, has a good hook, and is really upbeat. It sort of reminds me of their older material, so it’s no surprise that it’s a hit. The one thing that takes me out of the song is the way Adam Levine elongates every note during the chorus: “The map that leads yOOOOOUUUU/the map that leads to yOOOOOOUUU/ain’t nothing I can dOOOOOOO.” Others may not agree, but it makes me cringe. Still, it’s something you’ll be singing in your head when you least expect it. Though Levine’s falsetto isn’t the best on “Animals” it’s still a pretty strong track. They go for an R&B/pop infused sound with an added hip-hop bounce that gets you moving. Just like the previous song, it has a great hook and you can’t help singing along to it. It gets a little awkward when Levine howls at the end, but I guess we can forgive him for that.
One thing about the album is the band aims for different sounds here. Whereas on their 2012 effort they went for a dance feel, here they pick and choose from certain genres making for a disjointed record. It’s great to see them get away from what they previously did, but now it sounds like they can’t make up their mind on what they want to do. They play around with electronic influences on several songs including the decent “It Was Always You,” “New Love,” and the ’80s inspired “Coming Back for You” whereas “Sugar” is a return to the R&B vibe and “Feelings” finds them getting in touch with their funk driven, disco sound. There are times where the different sounds work for them, but others will leave you scratching your head. It’s not bad that they want to experiment, they’re results just aren’t always promising.
Just as with their previous record this one has its share of cheesy songs. “Unkiss Me” has to be the worse. Not only is the whole concept silly, it sounds like a boy band song rejected by the Backstreet Boys. Levine tries to be sentimental, but ultimately fails as he sings “I lied to my heart ’cause I thought you felt it/You can’t light a fire, if the candle’s melted/No, you don’t have to love me if you don’t wanna.” What does that even mean? He was never the best songwriter, but he’s had better ballads than this. Even when he teams up with Gwen Stefani on “My Heart is Open” is lackluster. Stefani sounds good, but it’s a boring song. It doesn’t hold your attention in the slightest. Not really the best thing to close the album with.
One track that I feel bad for sort of liking is “In Your Pocket.” Things start off well with the catchy music and the upbeat vibe. But that goes out the window when Levine sings “Show me that phone/in your pocket, girl.” Maybe it’s just me, but it sounds unbelievably stupid. I’ll admit it, Levine knows how to make it sound good and it’s something that’ll get stuck in your head, but really? If he wanted to write a song about mistrust in a relationship there are far better metaphors to use than a damn cell phone. No matter how catchy Levine tries to make the song, it can’t hide how dumb the idea is.
Overall, the album gets 7/10. It’s definitely not their strongest effort, but at least it’s a step up from their last release. There are enough fun, catchy, and upbeat songs to keep your attention and get you dancing. It goes to show the band always know how to make irresistible hooks. While I appreciate the way the guys play around with different styles in the songs, it doesn’t always work making the album feel disjointed. This, plus all the cheesy ballads Levine can’t seem to work out of his system, really brings the record down. Somewhere along the way, Maroon 5 lost their touch and it seems like they’ve been trying to get it back ever since. Unfortunately, they are nowhere closer with this album.