One of my favorite riddles of all time in music is the instant success of Maroon 5 and their debut album followed by the follow-up to that record that took five years to release. Songs About Jane is one of the biggest albums of the 2000’s and it was powered by hit song after hit song. What would have happened if the band released It Won’t Be Soon Before Long two years after the release of that album? The group’s third album, Hands All Over was Mutt Lange’s take on the group’s soulful pop sound and he helped the band deliver a decent album that’s still highly likable, but not altogether that memorable. Being the busy Hollywood star that Maroon 5 vocalist Adam Levine is these days it’s somewhat surprising to see the group with an album release already following up Hands All Over but with the recent release of Overexposed, the group is after another strong run.
In the pattern of most releases these days, Maroon 5 didn’t just work with one producer on this album. Teaming up with Shellback, Ryan Tedder, Max Martin, Benny Blanco, and a slew of others, the album never manages to capture a lot of cohesiveness. The only common thread that strings its way across the album is that this is a modern pop album. There’s a lot of programming and less of a focus on true instrumentation.
All of this doesn’t mean that this isn’t a good album. It’s the band’s second-best album replacing Hands All Over. The variety from song to song with all of the different producers and songwriting credits makes things somewhat interesting even though it takes away from this playing like a full album. For the the first time, Levine and co. are recapturing some of their Songs About Jane magic. “The Man Who Never Lied,” “Beautiful Goodbye,” “Sad,” and to some extent “Payphone” all recapture the feeling that Levine is singing about something he lived or at least believes in. There has been instances in the previous two albums where that was the case, but not a lot of them. On this album, there are exceptions but there’s some legitimate feeling here and when Levine is singing something that’s believable- it can’t be mimicked.
I wish Maroon 5 would make another Songs About Jane as do most of the band’s fans who have been there for the past decade. It’s not because that’s the first time people heard Levine’s voice or discovered the band, it’s because there’s this interesting heartfelt story and the feeling that a legitimate group that was bigger than its parts conveyed that story to an audience. That same experience might not be able to be duplicated, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hope for it. With the tenth anniversary edition of the band’s debut recently being released it’s something you should definitely pick up if don’t own it. As for this album, there’s some good music to be had here too, but I’d recommend previewing all songs and then individual purchases first.