Maroon 5 | V (Interscope/222)

cd Maroon5VV pushes the band toward new ground, even as M5 sticks to the catchy pop sound on which it’s built a solid reputation.

 

 

High expectations are a tricky thing. They are extremely hard to top, and really easy to fall short. Perhaps that was why my first listen of the new Maroon 5 album was, shall we say, underwhelming. A few days later, I dove back in, thinking optimistically that V might be a grower while trying to ignore the possibility that it didn’t live up to its predecessors. What I found instead was that it’s not a grower at all, but a categorically solid album I can envision playing on repeat for weeks. (Yes, I can be a bit obsessive about music.)

V, the band’s fifth album, opens with “Maps,” an upbeat track that serves as the perfect introduction to the release. Next up is “Animals,” which you’ve probably heard by now in a KIA commercial, if not on the radio. It’s addictive. The band brings the groove with “It Was Always You,” the first of a handful of songs that put a new spin on the feel-good funk of the ’70s and ’80s; others with similar influences are the falsetto-laden “Sugar” and “Feelings,” which promises more than the other suitor could ever deliver.

“In Your Pocket” is the perfect driving song: upbeat music, sing-along lyrics, and a toe-tapping melody. With “Unkiss Me,” the band presents the traditional breakup song in a new light: Don’t just leave and forget the past, but erase it. The mood turns hopeful with the promise of “New Love” and the anticipation of “Coming Back for You,” while piano underscores the mellower “Leaving California.” “My Heart Is Open for You,” a duet with Gwen Stefani, is the only misstep here, reminiscent of a 1980s cheesy back-and-forth, a lá “Endless Love.”

Somehow, throughout the album, Adam Levine finds ways to use his captivating voice to even greater effect, introducing unique deliveries that serve to push the band toward new ground, even as M5 sticks to the catchy pop sound on which it’s built a solid reputation. This innovation lifts a couple of the slower songs that could otherwise tend to drag, resulting in an extremely solid offering from one of pop’s forerunners. Having earned everything it’s achieved, Maroon 5 shows that it isn’t ready to give up the top spot anytime soon. A | Laura Hamlett

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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