Maroon 5: Hands All Over

Posted October 11, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

On third round, the L.A. outfit travels afar, is challenged by a perfectionist of a producer and pumps out their best pop album yet

Without letting it go their heads, Maroon 5 may just be the one rock band to save pop music from becoming an utter waste dump of talentless broads and costume-wearing fantasies whom get their rocks off on gimmick-entrenched live shows. The band, with a strong track record for Top 40 singles and melody-induced grooves, very seldom allow contributing writers in on their songwriting process. And with just two albums under their belt, the band – led by front man Adam Levine – have unmasked enough hits to assemble an incredible “greatest hits” collection. On their third set Hands All Over, they once again prove that the pen is mightier than the sword as their song writing craft, tuned up with an effervescent pop finish and an immediate likeability designed by hard rock, heavy metal and pop designer Robert John “Mutt” Lange (AC/DC, Def Leppard, Shania Twain), possesses an unprecedented cohesion that may eclipse the gravitas of Songs About Jane.

“Misery” kicks off the prevalently upbeat record using its playful banter of “love and hate/back and forth” amusement and strong melodic arrangements that sizzles with radio accessibility. Disco grooves and Prince-esque funk gets the best of “Give a Little More;” with James Valentine’s opening guitar licks resembling the opener of the fun K.C. & the Sunshine Band tune (“Baby, I Love You (Yes I Do)”). It still bereaves many groove chasers when the songs are quenched at the disappointing three-minute mark, but this is how Hands All Over develops and pulls listeners in. Its purpose, with Lange calling the production shots, is to get enough bait into the water and to tease listeners with enough to move on to the next song. As each song plays, the high levels for more content and an incredible thirst for extended sessions are remarkably satisfied by the strength of the melodies and how each song compliments the previous one. Even with “Give a Little More” being cut a bit short, “Stutter” kicks in and finishes up where its predecessor left off using its playful sing-a-long chorus and sweet dose of teen rock. “Get Back In My Life,” swaying like a re-verb of Rod Stewart “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” but with a modest Bee Gee quality, keeps the pulse alive on the album’s second quarter, along with the Motown-styled, Billy Joel-peppered “I Can’t Lie” and the ‘80’s pop motif found on “Runaway.”

There are some calming factors on the album like the Peter Gabriel-inspired “Just a Feeling” and the Adam Levine-penned rock ballad “Never Gonna Leave This Bed.” Although the boys, with a rocker’s glow and the poise of blue-eyed soul in their grasp, own most of their success to the upbeat dance-fevered jams, they aren’t afraid to slow things down for romance. “Out of Goodbyes,” the album’s biggest surprise of all, Lady Antebellum guests on a supple country-pop ballad tweaked with guitar crescendos. It’s debatable still if Maroon 5 should have stooped down to country’s muse as a last minute solution to sound relevant across the board. But it’s another risk Maroon 5 takes in order to kill boredom. Even if the slower songs on this round are skimmed of the opulent gravy that made “She Will Be Loved” so irresistible, they still do an impressive job in setting the mood.

Deciding what songs to hit radio should come quite easy for Maroon 5 this time around. Although some tracks are clearly designed as magnetic features for those enjoying the full album experience, radio will devour anything Hands All Over tosses at them. Everything seems to work together here: Levine’s soulful high register, the band’s careful explorations into pop-savvy acceptance while discovering a delicious spread to accommodate their adulation for Stevie Wonder, Duran Duran and Prince. If anybody despises Hands All Over out loud, it’s only because they have an innate phobia for the inevitable future of Maroon 5. Those who wanted them to stay confined to one format and buckled down to one tailor-made audience will just have to deal with the unified power band now resting comfortably in that stress-free mode of giving the people what they want while also having a damn good time. Most bands are sure to envy that.




  • Release Date: September 15, 2010
  • Label: A&M/Octane
  • Producers: Robert John “Mutt” Lange
  • Track Favs: Misery, Give a Little More, Just a Feeling, Runaway, Never Gonna Leave This Bed, How, Get Back In My Life

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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