Maroon 5: Hands all over

When I first read the review in our local paper, I didn’t believe the negativity I was hearing about it. What really struck me was that it said the album was more of Adam Levine and not so much a band effort.

After listening to it a few times, I do kind of see where they’re coming from.

I tried to find the article again online, but with no luck. Meanwhile, I read as many reviews as I could.

The general consensus among critics amounts to these facts:

1) “Songs about Jane” is still the best of their albums
2) “Hands all over” is a good album, though in no way spectucular

A few people will agree that Maroon 5 doesn’t have a unique sound and they have yet to define themselves as an artist.
One article ended with a sentiment that Maroon 5 could be the Hall & Oates of the 21st century if they loosened up a little.

I’ve taken pretty much every thing I’ve read in stride. I’m not completely sold on any of it. Strangely enough, as someone who opposed them when they first came out because at a concert, they played “Songs about Jane” through half a dozen times… its bound to get to you after a while.
But I always playfully referred to them as “Moron 5″… my favorite bunch of morons, though not necessarily to insult their intelligence.

Adam Levine is brilliant in his sensitivity and you see it in all of his lyrics.

Though some of these songs rub against the boundaries of “depressed” and “bitter.”

I get towards the last few tracks of the album and depression sets in a little bit.

One thing I find all the articles had in common. They dismissed two of the later ballads “How” and “Just a feeling” as interchangeable. Both are very somber and are more depressing than beautiful. If I had to pick one I prefer over the other, it would be “How” because it has a little more beauty in it. Although the ending of “Just a feeling” has Adam Levine’s beautiful falsetto.

I’d heard the album through 4 times now and the more I listen, the more I’ve desensitized myself to at least two songs that rubbed me the wrong way the first couple times. Aptly, the 2nd of the two is the title track. Critics declared it a rip-off of Def Leppard’s “Pour some sugar on me.”
I listen to it and I agree on the similarity, but I see the rock edge that Maroon 5 brought to the song “Shiver,” track 3 on their first album.

And also the more I listen, the more the album sounds like them.
I still see similarities between their songs and certain genres, though I feel like they own the vibe a little more.

Let’s start with “Misery.”
I’m still very much in love with the song, even though it’s been on the radio so much. They literally have played this dozens of times even before the album came out.
My first impression: I was worried it’d be a song by an artist I couldn’t stand, whether it be Justin Bieber or B.O.B. (spell that *^%* backwards and what does it say, same *(*^*&^)( *())(*, lol)… but as I listened, I not only grew to like the song. Then I started wondering “Is that Adam Levine?”… sure enough, I was right.

His voice is very distinctive, its hard to confuse it for anyone else.

I love the song to death. In fact, it became my personal theme the last month or so I was working… oddly enough, it made me feel better.

I get the whole Maroon 5 vibe that I’ve heard in their second album’s singles “Makes me wonder” and “If I never see your face again”… then the signature catchy lyrics. You hear this song half a dozen times and I guranatee you’ll get all of the words memorized.
It feels fresh from another decade, much like “Makes me wonder” made me think of the 80’s. This could easily fit with the 80’s and possibly the 70’s.

Which brings me to the next song that helped secure me on the ride. “Give a little more” made me think of 70’s disco, undeniably catchy and fun. Most of it is thanks to the range Adam Levine takes his vocals to, the lengths it goes to. Every line is finished just right and overall, its definitely discotheque exciting.

“Stutter” is carefree and simply float from one verse to the next. The biggest problem critics have with this is… well, simply, there’s nothing new. Every other artist has used this word in any of their given songs to describe being tongue-tied around the opposite sex.
I was skeptical at first, but I’ve grown to love it. It takes me along for a nice little ride, though not to the point of the previous track.
I’m thinking… more of Michael Jackson on this one. Right now, the song that comes to mind is “The way you make me” from his Bad album.

“Don’t know nothing” has a touch of R&B from the motown age (as several critics pointed out). I knew it was a certain vibe but I just couldn’t place it…. Sugar Pie Honey Bunch… all that jazz.
Its overall message is that Adam Levine doesn’t know much about love and the girl keeps proving him right when he goes about everything wrong.
I don’t know… something about it just annoys me to no end. I’m guessing the back-up vocals that accompany the melody between verses.

My first time in, “Stutter” had me taking a step back and the next song had me starting to worry about the rest of the album.

In an instant, my skepticism faded away with the opening hook for “Never gonna leave this bed.” It was the signature ballad that every Maroon 5 album needs… and I think it was really needed here to keep me from sinking into a puddle of worry about the rest of the album.
“She will be loved” is a brilliant ballad that nothing else Maroon 5 dishes out can touch. The sincerity of it is unmatched as is the vocal performance. Personally, this song got me thinking about the single from their second album “Won’t go home without you.”
When I first heard the song, I was thinking a little about the lead singer of that group, Five for Fighting. Supposedly Adam Levine adopted his vocal style and that’s why he sounds as he does. The two singers could be interchangeable and this song wouldn’t suffer one way or another.

Then the song that follows does what the song “Everyday” did for “Won’t go home without you.” It levels out the playing field with a carefree ballad that’s about somewhat of a heartbreaking subject. Only you don’t feel so bad about it.
Critics compared this to “Sunday Morning” from Songs about Jane… I listen and I agree… both could have shared a carbon footprint and it doesn’t bother me.
“I can’t lie” got me thinking about the 90’s R&B I heard in some of Prince’s songs on the Emancipation album, something I got from a couple of the outtakes from Maroon 5’s second album.
The pacing of the lyrics remind me of the bridge in “Sunday Morning” but also from the chorus of another of my favorites “Must get out”… ah, just thinking about it makes me all warm and fuzzy.

“Hands all over” rocks harder than the entire album and I’m still getting a feel for it. It’s a small departure from Maroon 5’s sound, though it doesn’t necessarily go anywhere. The lyrics are simplistic at best, though i can’t deny the beat has a little something.

“How” helps me get back into the game a little bit, but then it starts to get depressing after a little bit.

Then after that, I was listening to this song today and I already was falling back in love… only lasted for this song, but regardless, it helped.
“Get back in my life”… I’ll know it when I hear it, but for the strangest reason, I can’t remember how the song goes after the fact.
Looking at the lyrics helps a little bit. It oddly enough has me thinking about ABBA’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme”… listen to the version from Mamma Mia! and it might make a little more sense.
The magic is all in the pacing of the lyrics.

Then slowly, the rest of the album starts to fall apart and doesn’t recover.
“Just a feeling” is a little sleepy, but with time gets even more depressing… it reminds me a little of the last song on the deluxe edition of “It won’t be soon before long”… I believe its called “Losing my mind”

Maroon 5 does have a unique vibe that sets them apart from other artists. Though they experiment with different genres and so the sound of each one is a little different from the initial fingerprint, but I could list a number of songs that follow my thinking.

This Love, She will be loved, Must get out, Sunday Morning, The Sweetest Goodbye, Makes me Wonder, Won’t go home without you, coming back to your door, losing my mind, misery, never gonna leave this bed

“Runaway” picks things up a tiny bit. You get somewhat of a 90’s R&B vibe here, though it has a little more bass than “I can’t lie”… ok, a lot more bass, so we’re talking about a Boyz II Men vibe rather than Prince’s Emancipation… of course, I’m probably way off and its not even remotely similar to Boyz II Men… I didn’t listen to them growing up

Perhaps one of the most beautiful songs on the album is the duet with Lady Antebellum “Out of Goodbyes.” Adam Levine has a wonderful chemistry with their vocals and the lyrics are among the more descriptive in an album. You get a little of a country tang, but its mostly a sleepy, somber, beautiful break-up song.
The opening bars actually brought me back to “Te Amo Corazon” though we go far from that Spanish vibe.

Critics would probably rank this album in the middle with Songs about Jane still on that wonderful shining pedestal (well deserved, by the way)… several actually dismissed the second album “It won’t be soon before long”… I was surprised at the things I read about it.

You get a lot of variety, but there’s no cohesive factor. I’m going from the deluxe edition, but I’m glad to own it. If it was only 13 songs, it wouldn’t have been nearly enough for me.
Some day I really ought to check out the DVD in the set to see if the concert footage is any good.
Not that I have my doubts 😉

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