Can you believe it's been a whole decade since the world was exposed to the particular falsetto stylings of "She Will Be Loved"? Whether you liked them or loathed them, you couldn't help but sing along with them, as Adam Levine and co certainly knew their way around a catchy hook. Four albums later, a guest swinging chair on The Voice, international number one "Moves Like Jagger", and now we're on to number "V", which the band themselves have stated is ‘less hits-drunk' than their previous efforts. Which is kind of another way of saying that despite working with some of the biggest hit producers on the planet, their new album is kind of crap.
Opening number "Maps" leads the charge for just how watered down and generic the entire project sounds, written by OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, and sounds exactly like the kind of song OneRepublic would put on their own album, but not release as a single. Maroon 5, on the other hand, released it as the first single from this album. Second single "Animals", produced by Shellback – the guy who provided them with that Jagger swag – is a good verse is search of a better chorus: ‘We're just like Animals, Animals, Animals-mals!' followed by a wolf howl isn't exactly award winning stuff.
Its song five before we start getting to something half way decent: the Katy Perry sounding "Sugar", with its downer-buzz "Last Night (T.G.I.F.)" sounding guitar riff, will be stuck in your mind almost instantaneously. "Coming Back For You" starts off promisingly enough with a Genesis-esque drum attack, and that throwback sound is embraced fully on "Feelings", with its 8-bit electro beats and orgasmic chorus: ‘I've got these feelings for you, and I can't help myself no more…" followed by actual sexual moans and groans, this is clearly Maroon 5 finally loosening up a bit. Album closer "My Heart Is Open" is a duet with Gwen Stefani, written by Sia, produced by Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins and Benny Blanco, and while it doesn't quite add up to the sum of its parts, it'll still play well if they decide to release it as a potential Christmas single.
As far as decent songs go, that's pretty much your lot. "It Was Always You" taps into that synth-y 80s vein for a while, before just sounding like yet another Maroon 5 song. "Unkiss Me" starts off with a trap-ish beat, but that too dissipates for the chorus. For an album that features the likes of Max Martin, Dr. Luke, Stargate, Ammo, Cirkut, Mike Posner – all literally the who's who of number one makers right now – and for there not to be one clear highlight to be found throughout, it almost defies logic.
Looking back at Levine's reasoning behind the album: "On this record, we've added a bit more thought into what would make a great album – instead of being just a collection of pop hits." Nice idea, but you've kind of failed at both. "V" is just another collection of Maroon 5 love songs, some upbeat, some downbeat, none of which should end up on a future Greatest Hits compilation.
Review by Rory Cashin | TWO STARS