Overexposed Shows Too Much
- Friday, July 06, 2012
Artist: Maroon 5
Label: A&M/Octone Records
Maroon 5 will be one of those acts with a knockout greatest hits record. From a pop/rock start ("Harder to Breathe," "This Love") to the latter day funk of "Makes Me Wonder" and "Moves Like Jagger," the Los Angeles band sinks a hook so deep into every tune. Sadly, such a collection will require a parental advisory label like the one on the group's fourth album, Overexposed, due to singer Adam Levine's penchant for four-letter words.
It's a sign of the times when your leadoff single, "Payphone," can top the charts while employing both the f-word and s-word in its chorus, and then Wiz Khalifa can play on that to kick-start his guest rap—all the time knowing the Maroon 5 demographic is getting younger and more mainstream thanks to Levine's gig on NBC's The Voice.
Indeed, Overexposed seems to embrace the band's inescapable popularity this time around, bringing in Swedish hit magnet Max Martin (Ace of Base, Katy Perry) as executive producer, as if to be sure every song achieves the earworm effect. Some longtime fans are balking, unimpressed by lazy lyrics and the Top 40 obsession.
Regardless, Maroon 5 does the dumbed down thing well enough for what it is. Opener and second single "One More Night" sets the recurring that-girl's-so-hot-but-she's-bad-for me theme into motion with an undeniably catchy electro-reggae groove. "Tickets" (hello again, f-word) and "Lucky Strike" are also obsessed with "your perfect little body" and "body rocking," but they make disco cool again thanks to a smart rock edge.
Still, Levine's complaint that the beautiful babe on "Tickets" is all-surface-no-center could be said for much of Overexposed.
With that said, there is some welcome emotional depth to piano ballad "Sad," transparent anthem "Love Somebody," and John Mayer-esque closer "Beautiful Goodbye." And "Ladykiller" is the band at its creative best, combining a dash of funk with blue-eyed soul that reflects classic influences like Stevie Wonder and Hall & Oates.
But those are the minority on a project too fixated on the tormented relationships of "Payphone," almost cheesy "The Man Who Never Lied," and early ‘80s Duran Duran throwback "Doin' Dirt."
Musically, Overexposed is an easy upbeat listen—a shoe-in for clubs and parties—but topically it remains a hard pill to swallow. People coming off a bad breakup may relate to the bitterness within, but crowd-pleasing pop music should taste a little sweeter than this.
*This Review First Published 7/6/2012
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