Most every person walking around this campus has at least heard of the band Maroon 5, but only avid fans know that this wildly successful pop band actually found its beginnings in a small rock band in the ‘90s, Kara’s Flowers. This band released its first and only album as Kara’s Flowers while the members of the current chart-topping band were still in high school. This album, The Fourth Kind, while rough around the edges, was anything but formulaic. However, with each subsequent success since this little album, the band slips further away from its humble beginnings and teeters closer to the realm of skin-deep, formulaic pop where talent and substance take no role.
The band’s fifth studio album, aptly named V, is no different. It is an album built for radio domination, characterized by big electro-beats and odd vocal affectations. Where the band’s music was once a clear collaboration, drawing power from all of its members, this latest release could easily be mistaken as Adam Levine’s debut solo album. Melodies such as “Unkiss Me” and “In Your Pocket” rely almost entirely on Levine’s money-making voice over upbeat, drum-based melodies to give the music just enough catchiness to mask its emptiness.
There are fleeting moments of respite sprinkled throughout the album. The song, “Sugar” for instance, is wholly enjoyable and buoyant without depending entirely on the beat (or Adam, for that matter) to make it so. This song, while sounding largely like a Katy Perry hit, is a small glimpse of the old Maroon 5 we miss so dearly. “Feelings” is another that immediately stands apart from the lineup. Most reminiscent of the band’s previously successful release, “Moves Like Jagger” this song is the prize at the bottom of the cereal box. Sadly, you have to dig through a lot of crap to get to it.
On the whole, the album reaches a new low lyrically, most evident in the summer single, “Animals” where the chorus repeats, “Baby I’m preying on you tonight/hunt you down, eat you alive/just like animals.” That’s not even the worst part. The most atrocious line is without a doubt, “I cut you out entirely, but I get so high when I’m inside you.” Really? From “She Will Be Loved” to this garbage? Not only are these lyrics shallower than the kiddie-pool at the local gymnasium, they plain and simple don’t make sense.
V is a strange collection of seemingly haphazard lyrics in carefully constructed pop melodies built entirely for the charts. It is an even further stray from the Songs About Jane Maroon 5 that captured the world back in 2002 with beautiful melodies and well-deserved hits. It is an all-around descent into the formulaic.
Voices Choices: “Sugar,” “Feelings”