Maroon 5: Overexposed
You asked for an Adam Levine record? You’ve got it.
Ever since the frontman of Cali band Maroon 5 whipped his whiny falsetto into the hearts and ears of with “She Will Be Loved,” “This Love” and “Makes Me Wonder,” the near future of Maroon 5 seemed to be on the rocks. That reality was made clearer when Adam Levine started spinning chairs on NBC’s The Voice and after the Christina Aguilera-guested “Moves Like Jagger,” an obligatory homework assignment demanded by NBC execs, stormed to number one on the pop charts. But the super ego of Levine and the electro fa-shizzle of “Jagger” awkwardly pushed the band further away from their Stevie Wonder funk and Eighties pop/rock throwbacks. Overexposed, the band’s fourth LP, continues in that trajectory towards dance-pop glory. And the pile-up of synthy, electro workouts stacks up very high; “Lucky Strike” builds on Prince riffs and later swirls into synthy disco; “Doin’ Dirt” spins like a forgotten Gino Soccio record; “Love Somebody,” dressed up in Robyn electro beats, presents a dreamy sing-a-long chorus that makes “I Got a Feeling” seem childish.
Despite all the lofty studio experiments concocted by the string of heavyweight producers and songwriters, including Max Martin, Benny Blanco, Shellback and Ryan Tedder, the band – thanks to James Valentine’s involvement – tries to find ways to sound like themselves. The Wiz-supported “Payphone” sounds like a Maroon 5 record, despite its overuse of f-bombs and Bruno Mars copout. So does “Ladykiller,” with its smooth funk and entrancing guitar solo. The album opener “One More Night” explores reggae and hip-hop funk, while Levine attacks the verses with a Phil Collins charm. “Daylight” uses Coldplay melodic mechanics and breezy pop to create a comforting wonderland for a final goodbye: “And when the daylight comes I’ll have to go/But tonight I’m gonna hold you so close/’Cuz in the daylight we’ll be on our own/But, tonight I need to hold you so close.”
But Levine is still looking for the spotlight as he renders his lead vocal to “Sad,” a piano-only track, allowing him ample space to belt out a ballad using Elton John diligence. The moment feels like an isolated incident when squeezed in between all those uptempos and disco ditties, but it’s an Adele moment. It’s enough to thrust Levine to go solo or enough to get the band back to basics.
Still, Overexposed is probably their poppiest record to date. And despite the big changes, especially with the obvious absence of Jesse Carmichael’s piano (who is on a brief hiatus), they never lose their sense of melody or their ability to jam. In the meantime, they lose a good chunk of their band persona while trying to sound like a knockout opener for Rihanna, rather than the rock/funk hybrid they’ve purported themselves to be over all these years.
Never mind the deluxe edition unless you want to hear unlimited “Payphone” mixes and silly outtakes, such as the seven-minute Elvis-styled version of Prince’s “Kiss.”
J MATTHEW COBB
- Release Date: 26 June 2012
- Label: A&M/Octone
- Producer: Benny Blanco, Sam Farrar, Shawn Kang, D.J. Kyriakides, Mason “MdL” Levy, Adam Levine, Maroon 5, Max Martin, Noah “Mailbox” Passovoy, Matthew Rappold, J.R. Rotem, Sam Spiegel, Shellback, Ryan Tedder, James Valentine, Brian “Sweetwesty” West, Noel Zancanella
- Spin This: “Love Somebody,” “Daylight,” “Beautiful Goodbye”