WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27, 2012|
Posted by: Zoe Marquedant
Maroon 5's Overexposed is a pop album through and through. The lyrics focus on hard-hitting topics like dancing, crying and relationships. The songs feature all the bad rhymes that we have come to expect out of pop songs, like "it's like a cheap thriller/she's such a lady killer". Some songs (my guess would be "Beautiful Goodbye") will probably get some radio playtime, but they won't really have any lasting value beyond a summer hit. But that is all the nature of pop. And yet as simple as the equation is, Maroon 5 still managed to miss the mark entirely in their attempt to write a pop record. Overexposed sounds like the band set out to write an album of singles and fell short. The band enlisted heavyweights like Max Martin, Benny Blanco, Ryan Tedder, Shellback and a dozen others to help produce the release. Even with all that backing Overexposed still doesn't pack the same punch as the band's single "Moves Like Jagger" or their debut Songs About Jane. It is a collection of bland pop songs.
The album bounces between several sounds, exporing each for a brief song or two, focusing on none in particular. "Beautiful Goodbye" is the most remanescent of the old Maroon 5. It's a more stripped back song, with actual guitar parts that are audible above the mess. On their Spotify commentary for the album, lead man Adam Levine said it was an "old school" Maroon 5 song. "Fortune Teller" is another point on the album where the band sounds more like an actual band. You can pick out individual instruments and features more than just Levine's voice. "Wasted Years" is a song actually from the band's past. It was written and played earlier in their career and included in the album as a nodd to the band's past sound. Unfortunately it only detracts further from any sense of consistency on the album. The songs seem to have no common thread. The reggae opener "One More Night" and "Kiss" (a Prince cover) don't belong on the same album. Each song feels out of place, as if they were only written as filler for "Payphone". The single is a pop gem amongst packing peanuts.
The success of the band centers on Adam Levine, the band's lead singer. His career on The Voice and resulting exposure was probably the inspiration behind the album title. In recent years, Maroon 5 has become Adam Levine and some other guys. Their sound and image focuses almost entirely on Levine. As the band has progressed into a more pop-y sound, they have ditched the traditional five-piece format. The vocals, guitars, bass, drum combination has been swapped out for a mix of synth and other electronic elements. Compared to Songs About Jane the band is barely recognizable. Listening to their most recent releases, you wouldn't know Maroon 5 is more than one guy. Overexposed is no exception. The band spent Overexposed featuring Levine's voice in every over-produced way possible.
The most painful part of Overexposed is the song titles. I was shocked to see that they actually have a song called "Sad". I know not to expect deep philosophical discussions or psychological analysis out of pop albums, but that's a new low. Ironically the song is actually one of the albums stronger points. It showcased Levine's voice over just simple piano. Lyrically the song is predictable, with the hook "I'm so sad", but the sentiment is the only sincere moment on the album.
They did write one good song: