American band Maroon 5 released their fifth album, aptly titled V, earlier this month. The band’s previous two albums, Hands All Over (2010) and Overexposed (2012), both featured monster commercial hits in the form of ‘Moves Like Jagger’ and ‘Payphone’ respectively – but would they be able to continue this success with their latest effort?
V for Varied?
If chart positions are anything to go by they have continued, if not improved upon, their previous successes. V debuted at Number 1 on the US Billboard 200 making it the second time that the band have achieved the feat, the first being 2007’s ‘It Won’t Be Soon Before Long.’
On listening to the album, however, it becomes quite difficult to try and identify Maroon 5’s sound. Since the soulful era of their debut ‘Songs About Jane’ in 2002, the band have experimented with more pop and rock sounds – risks that have paid off, but are lacking in this new album.
Maroon 5’s likeable quality and evolving sound has clearly inspired the appeal of a number of new bands that would fit into the same category as them – think Fun, Train and, more recently, MAGIC!
As a result of their confused identity, many of their new songs sound like they could’ve been easily recorded by other artists: ‘Leaving California’ could have been recorded by Nate Ruess and Fun, ‘Sugar’ by Bruno Mars and ‘Unkiss Me’ perhaps by Rihanna, even though it starts suspiciously like Beyoncé’s ‘Pretty Hurts.’
As with their previous album, every song is co-written by Levine but only lead single ‘Maps’ sounds characteristically like Maroon 5. Although catchy and popular, it feels very safe and like something that could’ve appeared on Overexposed.
V for Victory?
Despite the unsubtle mixing of sounds on the album, one thing that can’t be denied is the impressive vocal range of lead singer and long-term judge on the The Voice USA, Adam Levine. Impartial to a falsetto chorus, Levine proves he is one of the best male vocalists in the business, and also a great impersonator following a recent appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show.
The truth is that despite the somewhat confused identity on V, the new album will not disappoint old fans and will almost certainly win new ones with its inviting range of songs.
Album highlights include euphoric, airy ballad ‘It Was Always You,’ infectious disco track ‘Feelings’ and the one with the unsing-a-long-able chorus ‘Shoot Love.’
The album’s only collaboration is ‘My Heart is Open’ with fellow Voice judge, Gwen Stefani. The result is a stripped back, arena-friendly, modest power ballad. Surprisingly perhaps, man of the moment and new Voice judge, Pharrell, is nowhere to be seen on the album credits.
V follows a pretty safe album formula. What it lacks in identity and creativity, it makes up for in doing what Maroon 5 do best: creating chart-friendly pop rock anthems which firmly place them as the originals in their category.
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