Album Review: Overexposed – Maroon 5

The remnants of a truly fantastic June keep trickling through. This time I’m dealing with the latest studio album release from glamour band Maroon 5. I reviewed the Deluxe Edition, which features three extra tracks.

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Released:
June 2012
Label:
A&M/Octone
Genre: Pop Rock
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With white bars

Now looks terrible on 3rd gen iPad!

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TRACK LISTING

1. One More Night
2. Payphone
3. Daylight
4. Lucky Strike
5. The Man Who Never Lied
6. Love Somebody
7. Ladykiller
8. Fortune Teller
9. Sad
10. Tickets
11. Doin’ Dirt
12. Beautiful Goodbye
13. Wipe Your Eyes (Deluxe edition only)
14. Wasted Years (Deluxe edition only)
15. Kiss (Deluxe edition only)

The measure of a band’s quality does not, and should never, stop at the lead singer. It sounds obvious, but a band isn’t a band without a gaggle of musicians behind the person with the best-tuned vocal chords. They deserve to be heard just as much as their frontman/woman. Maroon 5 seem to have forgotten this basic fact for their latest effort, the aptly title Overexposed. For all the varied beats contained within its run time, it could quite easily have been released as an Adam Levine solo album. I mean, for crying out loud, the group is called Maroon 5.

This isn’t to say the album is complete rubbish, or anything else of the sort. It features some catchy tunes quite ably holding up the “pop” half of the band’s chosen genre, but there just isn’t enough flying the “rock” flag.

I have been a fan of Maroon 5 since the days of their debut album Songs About Jane, when the band produced lovely and spiteful anthems in equal measure, with uniform quality to boot. Though commercial success dwindled with their next two efforts, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long and especially Hands All Over, in my opinion the quintet only improved with each release. Their songs became more creative while maintaining a distinct sonic character, a central part of which was their potent vocal harmonising. Yet Overexposed sees what might be described as a cautious backflip, all but scratching Maroon 5’s sonic evolution over three records and plumbing the contemporary pop music landscape for an entirely new sound, squarely focused on Levine.

The album opens with the first of its many frequent Oooohs, Aaaahs and Whoahs on One More Night, a simple and catchy ditty about the verbal stoushes that come with relationships. It has a techno, semi-reggae beat and it’s a good indication of the different style of album you’re about to get. Payphone, the album’s lead single featuring rapper Wiz Khalifa, isn’t exactly a bad song but it ain’t no Harder to Breathe or Misery. Track three, Daylight, is a pleasant ballad but the album’s first real highlight comes right afterwards in the form of Lucky Strike. Its unrelenting speed is its greatest weapon.

The Man Who Never Lied and Love Somebody are mid-pace ballads that do the mid-pace ballad thing well, though they can’t help sounding a little generic. Ladykiller, however, is refreshingly inventive and sets itself apart from the other songs on the album by virtue of an unorthodox lyrical theme, a persistent yet understated beat and Levine’s ear-caressing falsetto. It is unfortunate that the very next track, Fortune Teller, uses such a similar rhythm without adding much to make it interesting. It definitely suffers by swimming in Ladykiller‘s wake.

Luckily Sad steps in to pick up the album’s momentum again. With a mere piano as his main accompaniment, Levine unleashes an emotionally rich (if lyrically basic) reason why a solo album wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. Tickets snaps over to the vindictive end of the lyrical spectrum, then Doin’ Dirt, well, it does dirt. The regular album caps off with Beautiful Goodbye, a bouncy, upbeat instance of lyrical dissonance that stays in your head.

The deluxe section of the album is mostly underwhelming, as Wipe Your Eyes and Wasted Years feel just like the afterthoughts they are implied to be by their position on the tracklist. Kiss looks like it is going the same way for its first half, but the 7 minute blues-based epic gets better the longer it goes on.

If you get to the end of Overexposed and don’t miss the funk guitars and varied backing vocals provided by Adam Levine’s four bandmates, it may just be the album for you, because it isn’t lacking in experimental pop sensibilities and doesn’t have too many discernible weak points. But to me, its almost a lie to slap “Maroon 5” on the album cover. I’m a big fan of Levine’s and always have been, but as a band effort his latest offering just doesn’t stack up against the last three records, because it frankly isn’t much of a band effort.

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THE VERDICT

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Strongest Tracks:
Lucky Strike, Ladykiller, Sad, Beautiful Goodbye
Weakest Tracks:
Fortune Teller, Wipe Your Eyes, Wasted Years
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3 VsS O L I D

One response to this post.

  1. I agree – I loved their early works more…

    Reply

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