by Latecia Shantrea
Artist: Maroon 5
I’m a super fan for Maroon 5. I’ll say it proudly. I’ve purchased every album – I purchased/downloaded the debut album 7 times (2 were “lost”, 1 was admittedly borrowed by a friend and never returned, 2 had to be replaced because I played it so much the scratches from the cd player rendered it unusable), and I’ve made it a point to catch them whenever they happen to be playing in a city near me. My friends know how I feel about Maroon 5 – not just one person, but the ENTIRE group. I’ve watched on the sidelines as the band went through a few personnel changes, wondering how this would impact the sound of the band, only to rejoice when there weren’t any noticeable changes.
I’ve been listening to Adam Levine sing to me in one form or another since 2001. So, to say I’ve grown up with them is an understatement. Maybe I’m biased since I’ve been listening to the group since they were Kara’s Flowers, but the latest project Overexposed doesn’t quite live up to the debut project Songs About Jane. At this point, the Five man band are veterans, having made their debut in 2002 with the unmistakable album “…Jane” and followed up with two additional albums.
I started out wanting to really like Overexposed for all the reasons I started out wanting to really like their past albums, but “…Jane” remains at the forefront of my mind. It was so unmistakably raw and so unapologetically pop that I had no choice but to like it. Songs like “This Love”, “She Will Be Loved” and “Harder to Breathe” set the tone for the album while lesser known tracks “Secret”, “Must get out” and “Sunday Morning” touched a place just below my subconscious making me recall lazy Sunday afternoons with a lover or that secret relationship I never really wanted to tell anyone about.
Even though the songs were amazing, my love for Songs about Jane doesn’t have a lot to do with the songs themselves, but more so the memories the songs conjure. I recall introducing a few friends to the then unknown band and making them understand exactly why Maroon 5 was the next big thing. I remember the joy of finally learning to play the chords to ‘Secret’ on my guitar and I’ve introduced a lot of people to this track over the years. It’s one of my favorite songs, and the album is also in my top ten. Maroon 5 placed themselves at a disadvantage though, with a debut like “…Jane” the expectation for them as artists were exceptionally high. While the band continues to sell out arenas and has had their largest single to date with “Moves Like Jagger”, the artistic clarity displayed on “…Jane” hasn’t been seen since. That’s not to say the current studio effort isn’t good, because it is. Overexposed is a solid pop effort with radio friendly hits, the obligatory rap cameo and of course, “Moves Like Jagger” makes an appearance. Recent fans of the band will be satisfied to have new music and will most likely overlook the overproduced tracks, the computer generated changes to lead singer Adam Levine’s vocals and the lyrics that are unapologetically pop. After all, Maroon 5 has long established themselves as a pop band, and people’s expectations of a Pop band are…well, low.
But, true fans of the band may not be as understanding with the latest effort. After all, Hands All Over (the 2010 album that was critically acclaimed but commercially unaccepted) promised us a hint of Songs about Jane and Overexposed was supposed to deliver to us another critically acclaimed smash of an album. That didn’t happen. Overexposed exposes a few things for the Fivesome and it’s mainly that they’ve lost direction as a band. Save for a few mediocre tracks, the album fails to deliver or garner any type of emotion which is a shame, too, because Adam Levine’s voice is an instrument in and of itself. While “Payphone” (the lead single) is an unarguable hit, the unneeded addition of Wiz Khalifa leaves much to be desired. The opening track “One More Night” is cool, too.
Overall Overexposed leaves a lot to be desired, but it’s a cool summer album from a now cool summer band.