Maroon 5 is kind of like that kid you used to be best friends with in middle school, but as you got older, you grew apart. Despite this, you still harbor a certain emotional attachment to said kid. You guys had such great times together—how could you ever forget those Sunday Mornings?—but then he started caring about his reputation a little too much and ditched you for the popular crowd even though you always thought he was totally cool anyway. Yeah, that’s exactly how I would describe my relationship with Maroon 5.
The band has come a long way from its “Sunday Morning” days, practically trading its trademark, soft-rock sound for that of a boy band. One thing Maroon 5 has always kept constant, though, is the band’s relevance. Be it simple acoustic sounds or electro-pop beats, Maroon 5 has consistently climbed the charts. After the 2012 hit “Moves Like Jagger,” the six-piece group has been working toward emulating that success again and again, with a combination of Levine’s sultry lyrics and the beats of big-time pop producers Shellback and Benny Blanco.
The new album, aptly named V, is just as much the work of Levine, keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, and guitarist James Valentine, as it is the work of a formula that’s been put together by the band’s previous successes, and V continues to delve into the pop culture scene.
The album kicks it off with “Maps” and “Animals,” both of which are already climbing the charts. With lyrics like, “Baby I’m preying on you tonight / Hunt you down, eat you alive,” Levine’s talent still shines through, despite the dominance of Maroon 5’s “new” sound. The next song “It Was Always You” is reminiscent of a good hookup—it’s fun and makes you feel good, but, dare I say, it lacks depth.
Much of the rest of the album follows this same example. It’s enjoyable while it’s happening, but afterwards, you almost immediately forget what you were just listening to, which makes you question whether Maroon 5 is actually sacrificing quality for popularity.
Just when you’re thinking that most of these songs sound the same, though, Adam Levine surprises us with a sultry side we’ve never seen before in “Sex and Candy.” Yes, Adam Levine has always been sexy, but believe me when I say that there is nothing sexy about this song. It’s almost like having to sit through a sex scene with your parents, or like your weird uncle just took his pants off in the middle of the living room and you’re all confused and skeeved out.
One saving grace in the album, however, is “My Heart is Open” featuring Gwen Stefani. It’s in the lyrics of this song that Adam Levine reminds us what he’s capable of—the raw emotion that brought Maroon 5 to the forefront in the very beginning (“I know you’re scared, oh I can feel it”; “One more no and I’ll believe you”; and “I can’t spend another minute getting over loving you”). These are just a few of the lyrics that make this song stand out and reclaim that personal touch that a lot of Maroon 5’s songs have lost.
Overall, the album is like being invited to your middle school friend’s birthday party. It’s super fun, because it’s a birthday party, but then you realize … wait, what’s the point? Why was I invited? Do I even know this person anymore, or does her mom just feel bad for me? And then it hits you that this birthday party, as fun as it is, isn’t really significant to you anymore. This friend is no longer the friend she once was—she’s not telling you that you will be loved. So, please, Maroon 5, reach out to your original fan base again, because it’s becoming harder to breathe.
Featured Image Courtesy of Interscope Records