Category Archives: Maroon 5

Maroon 5 – Songs About Jane [2 CD 10th Anniversary Edition]

Maroon 5
Songs About Jane [2 CD 10th Anniversary Edition]
June 20, 2012
A&M OctoneUMG
070/100
Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane 10th Anniversary Edition

Disc 1
1. Harder to Breathe // 2. This Love // 3. Shiver // 4. She Will Be Loved // 5. Tangled // 6. The Sun // 7. Must Get Out // 8. Sunday Morning // 9. Secret // 10. Through With You // 11. Not Coming Home // 12. Sweetest Goodbye

Disc 2
1. Harder To Breathe [Demo Version] // 2. This Love [Demo Version] // 3. Shiver [Demo Version] // 4. She Will Be Loved [Demo Version] // 5. Tangled [Demo Version] // 6. The Sun [Demo Version] // 7. Must Get Out [Demo Version] //  8. Sunday Morning [Demo Version] // 9. Secret [Demo Version] // 10. Through With You [Demo Version] // 11. Not Coming Home [Demo Version] // 12. Sweetest Goodbye [Demo Version] // 13. Take What You Want // 14. Rag Doll // 15. Woman // 16. Chilly Winter // 17. The Sun [Alternate Mix]

In 2012 Maroon 5 released a tenth anniversary edition of their 2002 debut Songs About Jane. The original album has been covered by Sir Bonkers who rather enjoyed it. The incarnation of the album that was originally released to audiences worldwide in ’02 was decidedly not my cup of tea as is the band as a whole. In a review of that I would burn Maroon 5 to the ground for having a frontman with a high pitched, nasal voice, their ability to play instruments above averagely be damned. I’ve always thought of Maroon 5 as annoyingly mediocre.

I’ve always considered their music more annoying than the buzzing of a mosquito. A mosquito I can kill but Maroon 5 with Adam Levine included persists and persists to grow more annoying. Hearing Moves Like Jagger makes me think of of a guy singing with a clothes peg on his nose in order to sound extra nasal while trying to hit a bunch of different high notes while getting so out belted and out classed in general by a far superior singer with seventies soul diva worthy vocal talent, miss Christina Aguilera. But I’m getting off track there. the original Songs About Jane is a five out of ten affair in my opinion, but this is a review of the tenth anniversary edition which includes a full disc of previously unreleased material, mostly demos of the tracks that made the cut of the original album, but also a B-side of one of the singles and a couple of never before released songs. The following review is of that disc.

There is a very audible difference between the album versions and demo versions. The demos are much better sounding and Adam Levine’s voice can even – dare I say it – be appreciated.

This Love is a good example. The demo sounds crisper, less loud and Adam Levine sounds more natural. The album version was an acceptable shade of catchy bland-sounding as long as the volume was down. This actually sounds decent. Shiver sounds more much more modest and less pumped up.

The demos actually give the listener the opportunity to listen to the notes, silences and the interplay in the band. She Will Be Loved sounds more emotional. there  are some cool keys and sound effects going on here. I’m starting to see the appeal of these guys. The grooves are more groovy here and yes Maroon 5 sounds decisively funky.

In the demo mixes the vocals are more prominent and the keyboardist is really in his element on the demos. The Sun is a sheer pleasure. As I am trying to write I’m having to resist singing along. The drum kit sounds like an actual drum kit rather than on the album version where it sounds like a drum machine. The distant guitar wails almost remind me of the Verve. When I mention the Verve that is no light compliment. Nick McCabe played guitars like a shoegazing guitar hero.

Sunday Morning comes remarkably close to sounding like a live soul jam. If anything the ‘good old’ Chicago comes to mind. Chicago could play no other band and this version is a pleasant surprise. The demo of Secret is another gem. Adam Levine’s voice in slow jams with slow grooves and shimmering guitars is a match made in heaven.

The piano in Through With You sounds spacious and lively. Adam Levine is still still doesn’t work as an angry guy and never will because of his voice, so he does well setting the mood as disappointed. Sweetest Goodbye is also largely improved upon (Or rather taken away from since this is in fact the original version). The more accentuated acoustic sound works really well. The keys and acoustic guitars add a very nice effect. The guitar solo in the end gives a light Rock edge.

Take What You Want was previously unreleased. It is a good song about how relationships can end. This song is a light rocker and the guitar solos are very tastefully done. Rag Doll follows as a slow song about Adam Levine wanting to be single. Woman is a gem. I am digging this slow song about fantasising about a beautiful woman who he still has yet to meet.

Chilly Winter is a funk song about missing your girlfriend reminiscent of early Prince music not only in spirit but also in quality which was unexpected. The horn section works well in this song. The Sun is the closer of this album and. This is a good song too, full stop.

There is little to add. On the demos and unreleased songs M5 actually sounds like a completely different, better band. I find it regrettable that I learned of Maroon 5 via TV and radio and their finished albums because apparently that doesn’t give a good indication what these guys are capable of. The demos are much nicer sounding than their finished counterparts and the band sounds enjoyable throughout.

Best Tracks
She Will Be Loved [Demo Version]
The Sun [Alternate Mix]
Sunday Morning [Demo Version]
Woman
Chilly Winter

Recommendations
If the demo’s were sold on a separate disc I could recommend this album right away. On the second disc there is no filler and the demos actually make the regular album redundant. It’s terrific stuff.

As it is I still recommend a purchase but you should immediately put the first disc in the dumpster as soon as you leave the record store. Also this positive review shouldn’t be read as any sort of edorsement of anything else they ever did. All their other albums are still an apalling waste of time, although who knows? Maybe if they dug up the demos for a re-release those might sound good as well.

My regards,

Rura88


Maroon 5 – Overexposed

Maroon 5
Overexposed
June 20, 2012
A&M OctoneUMG
068/100
Maroon 5 - Overexposed
1. One More Night // 2. Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa) // 3. Daylight // 4. Lucky Strike // 5. The Man Who Never Lied // 6. Love Some Body // 7. Lady Killer // 8. Fortune Teller // 9. Sad // 10. Tickets // 11. Doin Dirt // 12. Beautiful Goodbye

Bonus tracks
13. Wipe Your Eyes // 14. Wasted Year // 15. Kiss // 16. Moves Like Jagger (feat. Christina Aguilera) // 17. Payphone [Supreme Cuts Remix] (feat. Wiz Khalifa) // 18. Payphone [Cutmore Remix] (feat. Wiz Khalifa) // 19. Payphone [Sound of Arrows Remix] (feat. Wiz Khalifa)

What constitutes a sellout? Did Maroon 5 trade in credibility for cold hard cash? A lot of other reviewers, as well as fans certainly think that Overexposed is a perfect example of a sellout and yes, they did.

To this reviewer this is not a question that’s easy to answer. One could go either way arguing, really. While Maroon 5 has always been about catchy radio-ready songs and never seemed to give a fuck about high culture credibility (which was good for them because they never got any accordingly) one could usually argue in their defence that in spite of their lack of innovative music-making they at the very least were a skilled traditional soul-influenced rock band, bringing many times some oft needed warm organic sounds to EDM and hip-hop dominated charts.

But with their ballsily titled fourth/fifth studio album of original material Overexposed they throw this shred of cred out the window so that Adam can finally be the electro disco diva he always envisioned himself to be, and which the success of their über-catchy, Christina Aguilera-featuring novelty hit Moves Like Jagger, which is present both on their last album Hands All Over and here as a bonus-track, finally allows him to be. (Well, in terms of success anyway. Makes Me Wonder and If I Never See Your Face Again already hinted at this artistic direction, but they never became as huge hits as Jagger did.)

This would be just fine if this were marketed as Levine’s solo-debut album, but since it is dubbed an M5 album it really makes one wonder how much imput the other four had. Overexposed for the most part doesn’t sound like four-to-five humans playing instruments, with one of them singing.
Also the list of producers recruited for Overexposed, and especially its opening salvo (Max Martin, Shellback, Benny Blanco) seem to have purposely been selected to push M5 in an EDM direction, one that requires but a person with a laptop with fl studio on it and a keyboard and a vocalist to make music, not a five piece band. The rock-influences (they had been a full rock band on their ’97 debut) have now fully and completely disappeared, which they had gradually been doing bit by bit, album by album anyway. This is EDM influenced R&B pop.

The resulting album is quite the quilty pleasure. From the Rihanna-esque Max Martin produced pop-reggae of One More Night, through the Wiz Khalifa-featuring android-Coldplay of Payphone. These songs would work equally well in the club as they would on M.O.R. radio.
And since M5 never really rocked hard you’d have to pay attention to actually notice them landing in their usual more acoustic, less robotic groove on Daylight, and find a way to succesfully blend both styles on the exuberant Lucky Strike, which manages to approach Jagger in is sheer mindless fun and catchyness.

The Man Who Never Lied manages to slyly incorporate the rhythm of this generation, dubstep in a glossy pop song and again blends electronic with the human in a manner that should get some heads to nod and some foots to tap.
Love Somebody is glossy new wave/ disco pop that’s tailor made for the discotheque and as such is works fine.

Lady Killer distinctly sounds like the Maroon 5 of olde with it’s very human, mildly funky groove and lyrics about heartbreak on the dancefloor and what not, and for longtime fans it should come as a breath of fresh air.

Love Somebody is glossy new wave/ disco pop that’s tailor made for the discotheque and as such is pretty functional.
Fortune Teller and Tickets are pretty decent, pretty straightforward GaGa ripoffs, What’s that? What are you complaining about? Bounce, bitch, bounce!
Sad is the first actual ballad on here and consists of nothing but Adam’s singing and a piano accompaniment. It sounds like the sort of vocal display that the Voice-participants would perform to impress the jury.
Doin’ Dirt is some stroboscope-shining disco for the ecstasy generation and constitutes the last call to the dancefloor, before Beautiful Goodbye‘s slow tempo initiates the slow dance that should draw you and the person you want to take home and bed together and finally break the ice.

(For those sticking around for the after-party, in the bonus track section you will find Moves Like Jagger as a fitting encore, as well as a rockabilly cover of Prince’s Kiss that is actually pretty innovative, but doesn’t fit on Overexposed, a song that blends early naughties Justin Timberlake and some big band horns called Wasted Year and finally three asinine remixes of Payphone in a row that all sound exactly the same as the original version.)

Now, back to the question posed in the beginning of the review. What constitutes a sellout? Did M5 sell their soul (no pun intended) just to sell records the way many other reviewers claim?

Here at DITC the jury is still out, actually. On the one hand, as was said earlier; M5 was never about very substantial music, not even during their “grunge” days, and Overexposed doesn’t sound forced. It is entirely possible Adam and co. enjoyed fucking around with some new sounds (even if everyone else was fucking with those exact same sounds at the exact same time, Adam is well known to not be a very picky guy) On the other hand, it is entirely possible that the record label liked the extra revenue Jagger brought about and told the guys to deliver another dozen of those.

Who cares with results this catchy? Overexposed is a party, a very slight party, but one worth attending anyway. And whoever’s idea it was making an electro-dance record, it wasn’t a completely horrible one. Especially considering what a relative clunker Hands All Over was. And even though I still think this more as a producers-driven Adam Levine solo album on which his band-buddies only get to play along on a couple of tracks. But that doesn’t mean in any way there’s not a wealth of catchy ass-shakers on here, because there is (more than on Hands All Over but less than on IWBSBL). Hopefully the guys will swiftly return to what got them a fanbase and made them, you know, a band with their own sound, and it remains to be seen whether anyone will listen to this in ten years (except Jagger, which is one for the ages) but for now this is a very catchy, well put-together album for the summer. And that is certainly worth something.

Best tracks
One More Night
Payphone
Lucky Strike
Lady Killer
Tickets
Doin Dirt
(Wasted Year
Kiss
Moves Like Jagger)

Recommendations
Pick this up, you should go for the deluxe edition. Even if it contains it’s fair share of meh tracks, there’s even more pop music that’s catchier than ebola.


Maroon 5 – Hands All Over

Maroon 5
Hands All Over
September 21, 2010
OctoneA&MUMG
063/100
Maroon 5 - Hands All Over
1. Misery // 2. Give A Little More // 3. Stutter // 4. Don’t Know Nothing // 5. Never Gonna Leave This Bed // 6. I Can’t Lie // 7. Hands All Over // 8. How // 9. Get Back in My Life // 10. Just a Feeling // 11. Runaway // 12. Out Of Goodbyes (feat. Lady Antebellum)

Deluxe edition bonus tracks:
13. Last Chance // 14. No Curtain Call // 15. Never Gonna Leave This Bed [Acoustic] // 16. Misery [Acoustic] // 17. If I Ain’t Got You [Live] // 18. Crazy Little Thing Called Love [Acoustic]

Reissue:
13. Moves Like Jagger (feat. Christina Aguilera)

For Maroon 5’s third album of original material (fourth if you count the Fourth World) they decidedly didn’t attempt to fix what wasn’t broken. Like It Won’t Be Soon Before LongSongs About Jane and even the Fourth World this album contains exactly twelve tracks, clocking at under 45 minutes, which is plenty for it not to be a glorified EP yet isn’t so long that you’ll be sick and tired after only one listen. Like its predecessors it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Problem is that another, less static, more progressive trend has been continued as well. From their alt-rock debut, through Jane and IWBSBL they have become an increasingly slick, polished unit. Where Jane by a small stretch of the imagination could be considered alternative mainstream, It Won’t Be Soon was a shameless attack on the pop charts, a terifically executed shameless attack on the charts that didn’t actually trade in quality for pop-appeal. But still a move that one could consider selling out if one is so inclined (For the record, I am not. I think Adam had as much fun becoming a slightly rocky disco diva as his audience, and that the band, if anything were indulging themselves with the new direction. Moves Like Jagger certainly points in that direction.)

Hands All Over however doesn’t cross the band into any new territory, the way Makes Me Wonder or If I Never See Your Face Again did. Those two snide, sarcastic, crunchy funk numbers are reprised in the form of Give a Little More, as catchy a song as any in their back catalog and hands down the best thing on here.

It’s not that the rest of the songs here are offensive to the ears. In fact Don’t Know Nothing has a cute little Motown-vibe. Misery and Stutter are funky and catchy enough dancefloor fun with refrains you can sing along to.
Never Gonna Leave This Bed should satisfy adult contemporary rock audiences worldwide, and would be a good choice for the sweltering background music to the makeout scene in some young adults-movie.
I Can’t Lie is some sunny soul-pop with a very mild ska/reggae influence that wouldn’t sound out of place at a BBQ.
Hands All Over is about as hard as Kara’s Flowers rock these days, and it has plenty of rockstar attitude and strut. Just a Feeling is the big, emotional ballad à la Won’t Go Home Without You, and it’s every bit as catchy, if not quite as poignant.
Out Of Goodbyes pairs M5 with country band Lady Antebellum for something that marries mild-mannered country and sultry bossa nova.

As can’t-complain-decent as everything is, there’s absolutely nothing on here you haven’t head before, better, both by this band and by other artists. So while Hands All Over may be an album too catchy and professionally done to outright dismiss it is also too toothless to outright recommend to anyone in particular, besides M5 fans fiending desperately for a new fix.
(Still, the tracks contained in the main version of this album sound damn near experimental compared to the deluxe edition bonus tracks. Completely literal covers of Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You and Queen’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love are best left to your the Voice protégés, Adam. What the fuck!?)

Still there’s one special edition of this album that should be considered for a purchase before any other. One that incorporates but one additional song, one that, novelty hit and guilty pleasure it may be, helps to make up for the most fundamental of this album’s flaws, lack of memorability. That song is the Christina Aguilera-featuring electro-disco Voice-fest called Moves Like Jagger. And that reissue of Hands All Over gets a 070/100 rather than the main edition’s 065/100.

Best tracks
Give A Little More
(Moves Like Jagger)

Recommendations
Pick up the reissue of Hands All Over, you’ll get two pretty cool dancefloor jams and eleven additional songs that may not be very substantial (in fact even less so than M5’s music usually is) and completely evaporate from consience after this disc stops spinning, but are still quite enjoyable when they’re on.


Maroon 5 – Call And Response: The Remix Album

Maroon 5
Call And Response: The Remix Album
December 9, 2008
A&M OctoneUMG
045/100
Maroon 5 - Call and Respond The Remix Album
1. If I Never See Your Fage Again [Swizz Beatz Remix] (feat. Cross) // 2. Wake Up Call [Mark Ronson Remix] (feat. Mary J. Blige)  // 3. Sunday Morning [Questlove Remix] // 4. Makes Me Wonder [Just Blaze Remix] // 5. This Love [C. “Tricky” Stewart Remix] // 6. She Will Be Loved [Pharrell Williams Remix] // 7. Shiver [DJ Quik Remix] // 8. Wake Up Call [David Banner Remix] (feat. David Banner) // 9. Harder To Beathe [The Cool Kids Remix] (feat. the Cool Kids) // 10. Little of Your Time [Bloodshy And Avant Remix] // 11. Little Of Your Time [Of Montreal Remix] // 12. Goodnight Goodnight [Deerhoof Remix] // 13. Not Falling Apart [Tiësto Remix] // 14. Better That We Break [Ali Shaheed Mohammed & Doc Remix] // 15. Secret [DJ Premier Remix] // 16. Woman [Sam Fararr Remix] // 17. This Love [Cut Copy Galactic Beach House Remix] // 18. If I Never See Your Face Again [Paul Oakenfold Remix] (feat. Rihanna)

Remix albums of conventional pop acts tend to age horribly and usually don’t sound very good to begin with.
Usually when greedy record executive commision one an artist’s back catalog is stripped of some or most of its instrumentals and thrown over beats that incorporates whatever EDM or hip-hop style is en vogue at the time of the album’s release. If the remixer of a particular track is a hip-hop producer usually a rapper gets called in to do one or two thowaway verses, and because there’s typically none of the artists that created the original songs around for quality controll and because appearing on the remix of the latest pop tart’s latest single, which you don’t necessarily fancy, an act with a fanbase that doesn’t necessarily fancy you, is an ungrateful chore usually said rappers can’t be blamed for not bringing their A-game to the table. And the same usually goes for the high priced EDM DJs that are called in to create club bangers.

As much as I want to like West-Coast hip-hop legend DJ Quik, East-Coast hip-hop legend DJ Premier, A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Mohammed, music legend in general Pharrell Williams, hipster rappers the Cool Kids and southern stalwart David Banner taking on M5 tracks (being that I’m both a huge M5 fan and a huge hip-hop head and given that these are usually each very reliable producers) all they go to show is that yes Maroon 5 is very much a band and taking Adam’s vocal tracks out of their original band-surroundings completely takes away the appeal.
It also doesn’t help that especially the Pharrell and Premier tracks sound like some studio tool was given the task to unimaginatively create instrumentals that sounds like the work of the people they’re credited to on the back of this album.
Oh well, at least the Swizzy contribution sucks as much as I thought it would, which doesn’t make up for anything, but is reassuring nontheless. Who the hell is this Cross guy anyway, and who did he have to fellate to appear on a major label release by a succesful pop act?

The Oakenfold and Tiësto contributions at the very least should serve their purpose of getting some girls people to dance at the club, but it’s debatable whether any non-diskjockey would need to own these tracks, and whether those who would aren’t better off picking them up on EDM compilations where they appear alongside similarly minded stomping concoctions.

Then there’s pop heavyweights Bloodshy & Avant and C. Tricky Stewart’s contributions, which simply take away the organic feeling of the originals, replace it with crappy midi-music and call it a night. I hope Adam and co. just had these remixes lying around from varying single-releases and decided to compile them rather then commission them specifically for this album, because that would be a waste of time and.. well not really resources, the best thing Bloodshy & Avant ever did was Britney Spears’ Toxic.
The alternative rock band Of Montréal’s remix of Little Of Your Time sounds like someone fucking around with sound effects, keyboards, distorted guitars and fruityloops in such a horrible manner that these people should be dragged onto the streets and egged by a mob of angry villagers.
The Deerhoof Remix of Goodnight Goodnight, while not very good in and by itself, sounds like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles collaborating with Michael Jackson-good in comparison.

Now for the good. Mark Ronson brings the very best track with his remix of Wake Up Call which pairs Levine’s vocals with those of Mary J. Blige to good results. (Unlike all the previous pairings, bar Tiësto and Paul, this pairing, actually makes sense on paper.)
Just Blaze reimagines Make Me Wonder as a Elton John meets Justin Timberlake-ish ballad, which while not topping the uptempo disco original version does show some good imagination, and doesn’t sound like shit, which is awesome in the context of this album.
And the Cut Copy Galactic Beach house version of This Love has a nice percolating New Order-ish groove you can dance to, even if Adam’s vocal contribution is so edited-down that M5 might as well could have been credited as providing the source material for this track’s creators to have sampled, but certainly not as featured, let alone this song’s main artists. That doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s about as good as this album gets, but should be mentioned anyway.

With eighteen different remix outfits creating these eighteen remixes this album doesn’t even suck consistently, each track gets to regurgitate semen in its very own unique way. Also, they should’ve included the Kanye West remix of This Love because that would be track that fans might actually want to own, and perhaps Levine’s duet with mr. West Heard ‘Em Say, because it is essentially an alternate version to IWSBL‘s Nothing Lasts Forever (even if it is the original version.)

In short, this album is mostly a mixed bag of several flavours of uninspired, misguidedly created bullshit, made mostly from perfectly good original tracks. Everything sucks, except the below five tracks. Although in all fairness you could probably live a good, fulfilling  life without having ever heard those either.

Avoid at al costs.

Best tracks
Wake Up Call [Mark Ronson Remix]
Makes Me Wonder [Just Blaze Remix]
Not Falling Apart [Tiësto Remix]
If I Never See Your Face Again [Paul Oakenfold Remix]
This Love [Cut Copy Galactic Beach House Remix]

Recommendations
What the fuck do you think?


Maroon 5 – The B-Side Collection

Maroon 5
The B-Side Collection
December 18, 2007
A&M OcotoneUMG
060/100
Maroon 5 - The B-Side Collection
1. Story // 2. Miss You Love You // 3. Until You’re Over Me // 4. Losing My Mind // 5. The Way I Was // 6. Figure It Out // 7. Figure It Out // 8. Infatuation

That title isn’t quite accurate. Only three songs featured on this EP (StoryMiss You Love YouThe Way I Was) were actual B-sides of M5 singles. The rest of the songs were left on the cutting room floor from the IWBSBL sessions. All of the songs were bonus tracks on the various international editions of that album, but for albums as start-to-finish listening experiences more is rarely better. And it was a good decision to keep the standard edition at only twelve songs long. After all, who’s got the patience to listen to a album that’s twenty tracks long? (Rappers of the world take note.)

So kudos to Maroon 5 and the people A&M Octone records for collecting these tracks and releasing them seperately from the album they were once slated to appear on rather than automatically putting them on the album.

The B-Sides Collection indicates that It Won’t Be Soon actually contains the best material the guys had in them during those recording sessions, because what we have here is a couple of tracks that’s on par with that album’s lesser cuts and some more songs that aren’t quite as good. The hooks on here, the sword by which a M5 song lives and dies, aren’t quite as catchy as one’s accustomed t from this quintet and the instrumentals aren’t quite as funky as they usually are. Nothing here outright sucks, but that’s not quite an endorsement, is it?

The Way I Was was once allegedly supposed to be the lead single of IWBSBL, but since it comes off as a fairly well done Coldplay knock-off Makes Me Wonder‘s more distinct groove was arguably the better choice.
Figure It Out sounds like N*E*R*D imitating Lenny Kravitz and you can take that how you will, it’s an alright enough song but nothing special.
Infatuation colours a rather vanilla MOR song with some distorted guitar playing and is a pleasantry as well.
Losing My Mind is hardly insane, but hey this is M5 we’re talking about. To grab the listener by the throat just isn’t what they’re all about.

The B-Sides Collection is pretty damn inessential. But for fans of It Won’t Be Soon Before Long there is plenty to like here. Unless they own they own the reissue, in which case they already have every “B-side” on here.

Best track
The Way I Was
Infatuation
Fugure It Out

Recommendations
If you liked It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, somehow you have never heard these tracks and are one of those people who doesn’t like the new direction M5 took with Overexposed you should buy this album (a physical copy doesn’t exist, you’ll have to buy this off iTunes), M5 haters will certainly not be convinced of the bands merits by this, casual fans needn’t really bother and people new to their sound are best to check out either of their previously released studio albums before checking this out.


Maroon 5 – It Won’t Be Soon Before Long

Maroon 5
It Won’t Be Soon Before Long
May 16, 2007
A&M OctoneUMG
075/100
Maroon 5 - It Won't Be Soon Before Long
1. If I Never See Your Face Again // 2. Makes Me Wonder // 3. Little Of Your Time // 4. Wake Up Call // 5. Won’t Go Home Without You // 6. Nothing Lasts Forever // 7. Can’t Stop // 8. Goodnight Goodnight // 9. Not Falling Apart // 10. Kiwi // 11. Better That We Break // 12. Back At Your Door

Five years separate the release of Maroon 5’s official studio debut album (technically sophomore) Songs About Jane and that of their official sophomore (technically third) studio album It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, which is an indicator of the crafmanship and perfectionism of what arguably was arguably the best white soul band since the Bee Gees, Wham!’s and Hall & Oats ’70s and ’80s heydays (I know M5 is still active  and popular, now more than ever, but since craftmanship and perfectionism seem to have been thrown under a bus in recording their ballsily titled fourth album Overexposed they are no longer considered the best, or even an actual band by this reviewer, which is why I used the past tense.)

Not that all those five years were uninterruptedly spent creating It Won’t Be Soon, Levine and company had been touring heavily to support Jane helping it’s chart resurrection in early 2004 when This Love became massive. I imagine the guys not even being sure that they would ever get to record another major label album until that miracle happened. (It would seem that they toured so hard that drummer Ryan Dusick busted his arm and needed a replacement in the form of Matt Flynn for the next album.)

Jane had been a massive sleeper hit, one of those rare occurrences where an album takes a couple of years on the shelves to start racking up the hit singles and selling actual copies, based on word of mouth (in this particular case John Mayer’s, apparently).

According to the band the new album wouldn’t be centred around one of Adam Levine’s crashed relationships, the way that Songs About Jane allegedly was, but around a myriad of them rather, which is to say to say that It Won’t Be Soon Before Long is about a little bit of Monica, a little bit of Erica, a little bit of Rita, a little bit of Tina, a little bit of Sandra, a little bit of Mary and Jessica and lord knows who the fuck else, rather than just plain ol’ Jane. This is noticeable in that the songs on here, from the opener If I Never See Your Face Again to the closer Figure It Out form a unbroken chain of catchy come on- and kiss off-grooves and ballads.

The MOR sound of Jane has been slightly altered to sound cleaner, crisper and groovier (Just compare Makes Me Wonder‘s synth-strut with This Love‘s piano-strut.) sacrificing warmth for danceability, and making Adam’s vocals sound even more aloof by default, a movement that would turn out to be linearly progressive over the course of their next two albums, and had sort of been from The Fourth World on even, if you think about it.

The hit singles are perfect pop.
If I Never See Your Face Again (the album version with just Adam on it, not the Rihanna-featuring atrocity that ended up on your radio and video channels) is the catchiest on-and-off relation song in existence, with its percolating bassline and Levine singing about the conflicting feelings one of these ladies and him give one another.
Makes Me Wonder is a ditto post-relationhip hangover jam, delivered to the listener in Adam’s trademark, methodical nasal yelp over a crunching synth-groove. (Dance away the heartbreak, y’all!)
On Won’t Go Home Without You the man manages to sound delicate and gentle over an instrumental that seems to liberally borrow from the Police. (Sting’s fingerprints are all over this album, Not Falling Apart also sounds like his handiwork mixed with a dash of Coldplay.)

The album tracks, while not quite as good as the singles, are pretty nifty too. Kiwi takes cues from R. Kelly with its borderline embarassing sexual metaphore “juices dripping down [Adam’s] chin” (unless it is in fact not a metaphore, and Adam is bragging about eating out a girl from New Zealand, wich is a much more hilarious explanation, to me it is anyway), Prince, via its funky guitar-hook and rocky guitar-solo.
Nothing Last Forever interpolates Adam’s own contribution to the hook of Kanye West’s 2005 single Heard ‘Em Say, and turns it into a featherlight M.O.R. blues-pop song, and while the Kanye song is far superior this version works well enough in its own right to warrant inclusion on It Won’t Be Soon Before Long.

The rest of the songs are pleasant enough not to skip over, with some big dramatic ballads, smooth rockers and more disco and ska providing something for everyone’s taste, and help making this one of those albums you can play in one go. With the standard version clocking just over fourty minutes there isn’t much fat on this album, which is definitely a good thing, since the deluxe versions that includes one to seven additional tracks, are a lot more difficult to get through and go to show what this album could’ve been like without restraint on the band’s, or the record label’s part.

As I may have given away already already It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, much like its predecessor doesn’t contain much in the way of originality. Most of the music on here is a pastiche of several different R&B and rock genres, such as disco, funk and ska. The movents that have been made are best described as refinement and updating, definitely not experimentation and so the conslusion of this review will read exactly the same as that of the review of Jane.

It Won’t Be Soon Before Long is pretty much completely free of experimentation, radiates with professionalism and could therefore be considered dull by those looking for innovation for innovation’s sake. Those simply content with well written, expertly performed songs about love, heartbreak and every day life need look no further than It Won’t Be Soon Before Long.

Best tracks
If I Never See Your Face Again
Makes Me Wonder
Won’t Go Home Without You
Nothing Lasts Forever
Kiwi

Recommendations
Pick this one up.


Maroon 5 – Songs About Jane

Maroon 5
Songs About Jane
June 25, 2002
J RecordsOctoneA&MUMG
075/100
Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane
1. Harder to Breathe // 2. This Love // 3. Shiver // 4. She Will Be Loved // 5. Tangled // 6. The Sun // 7. Must Get Out // 8. Sunday Morning // 9. Secret // 10. Through With You // 11. Not Coming Home // 12. Sweetest Goodbye

Kara’s Flowers, an L.A. based alternative rock band consisting of Jesse Carmichael, Mickey Madden, Ryan Dusick and Adam Levine, released their debut album on Reprise Records, to the sounds of crickets in the summer of ’97. The only single off the album Soap Disco failed to make a splash on the charts and the guys gave up those silly rockstar dreams and went to college never to be heard from again.

Well that’s what should have happened, but in stead the guys added guitar player James Valentine to their line up so that Adam who had been the main guitar player up until then had his hands free to engage in frontman antics better, and became a rockier version of Jamiroquai, racking up the hits and selling boatloads of albums while being hated on by music critics and Noel Gallagher.

A lot of people claim to hate the everliving shit out of M5, but as Adam put it:
“People hated Creed. They don’t hate us. At worst, they just don’t really like us. Creed … had that attitude, they pontificated about how great they were, they had a horribly generic band. They were easy to hate and we’re just, you know, easy to disregard.”
Before you start dumping on Adam for having a horrible sense of humour (he does) realise that this is pretty accurate actually. It’s going to be quite difficult pissing somebody off with an M5 song. Bar MooOOooOOoo00ves Like Jagger none of their material has enough personality to put much of a dent in one’s conscience. Most people won’t even notice they’re on unless they’re specifically listening for them. You try distinguishing This Love from …Baby One More Time in an overcrouded mall (still the place you are most likely to hear any Songs About Jane) while trying to find that one wintercoat that is both comfortable, hip for the season and good looking on you, or sipping on a semi-skimmed soymilk latte with a dash of nutmeg (Seriously, whose goddamn idea was the fucking nutmeg on a fucking coffee, name names motherfucker).

It is for the exact same reason that there isn’t much to hate that they never became critical darlings and did become very wealthy off their music, they’re an MOR band albeit with just a little bit of a hazy alt rock atmoshere around them (that would evaporate as well by the time they recorded their sophomore album).

love Maroon 5, so apparently none of this stuff matters much to me (a recurring feature in fans of easy listening music) but it needs to be explained in a critical review of an album why and how something was succesful and in what aspects it wasn’t.

Usually a review of a Maroon 5 album begs the question who would go out and purchase a spit-polished mash-up of the Police and Prince. While a quick look at the soundscan doesn’t exactly provide a straightforward answer, it does that that yes, in fact quite a lot of people did. It also shows that it took the boys two years to actually sell some records. A look at their singles discography shows that their first single Harder to Breathe was a relative flop in 2002, that they released zero singles, hit- or otherwise, in 2003 and that the double fisted attack on the charts, This Love and She Will Be Loved occured in 2004. What the blazers happened in the mean time? John Mayer copped to liking the album after which his fanbase ran out to buy it? That’s about as good an explanation as any. The fact that Songs About Jane is a terrific album can’t actually have helped matters. That’s not how the music industry does things.

How one appreciates Songs About Jane is a matter of perspective. As a “rock” album it is found awfully vanilla by those who indulge themselves in rock music, and truth be told it is. While never boring musically M5 is very groove-centered leaving little space for things such as guitar solos and the like. Unlike Kara’s Flowers however Maroon 5 isn’t a rock band, it’s an R&B group wherein its members actually play instruments rather than dance in sync behind the lead singer. Putting this album toe-to-toe with your favourite obscure indie group is therefore pretty damn senseless. This album is actually in the Justin Timberlake ballpark. In this light one can say that Songs About Jane slaughters Justified and then fornicates with its skull. This has mostly to do with Adam being a far superior, more credible blue-eyed soul singer and Maroon 5 writing far superior songs than JT will ever be able to do, being in their own way relatively more classy and more subtle.

Off course M5 does have originality issues. One could literally slip Sunday Morning into a Jamiroquai playlist without anyone noticing that it’s not Jay Kay and company that’s on. But it should be noted that it’s a good Jarmiroquai song, and sometimes leaving pushing the envelope on a shelf in favour of making something that only entertains is the right thing to do.
This Love‘s instrumental is beyond shadow of a doubt a Britney Spears re-write what with its percussive piano’s, with some filthy guitar-accents throw in for edge’s sake, but again I’ll be damned if it doesn’t sound terrific coupled with Levine’s nasal falsetto that is in equal parts soulful and aloof.
She Will Be Loved is the song you love the shit out of, which you can’t admit to your boys because it’s so delicate and sentimental. You’re far from the only one. It’s guilty pleasures like these that helped Jane sell close to five million copies in the USA alone without having Timbaland or Pharrell on board and without M5 having a prior boyband fanbase, and that‘s justified (no pun intended).

Album tracks and minor hits like SecretShiverNot Coming Home and Must Get Out are very nearly as good as the heavy hitters, with tight grooves, catchy refrains, lyrics that may or may not be meaningful (this truly lies in the ear of the beholder) but always manage to sound cool.

So there you have it. Songs About Jane is pretty much completely free of experimentation, radiates with professionalism and could therefore be considered dull by those looking for innovation for innovation’s sake. Those simply content with well written, expertly performed songs about love, heartbreak and every day life need look no further than Songs About Jane.

Best songs
This Love
She Will Be Loved
Sunday Morning
Secret
Shiver
Not Coming Home
Must Get Out

Recommendations
Pick this one up. You can opt for the regular edition or the 10th year anniversary deluxe edition which contains a second disc with the demo version of every song present on the normal edition and some previously unreleased songs from the Jane recording sessions. (only for the die hards)