By Preman Koshar, Staff Writer ||
Maroon 5’s fifth album, V (pronounced “five”), is, at the same time, something new and something old. The album was released Aug. 29, a little over two years after the band’s last album, Overexposed (2012). V has since been met with mixed reviews, with a Metascore of 55/100. While Rolling Stone gave the album four out of five stars, The New York Daily News called the album “so annoying, you won’t be able to scrub [it] from your mind.” Some have praised it for sticking with the band’s contemporary pop-rock feel, while others have said that the whole album is unoriginal and completely forgettable. My opinion falls more in the middle of the road.
The first single from the album, “Maps,” was written primarily by the group’s lead performer, Adam Levine. The song, like everything Levine has written, is catchy and enjoyable—yet completely unremarkable. Every one of the 11 songs in the album blend together easily, and the only way to tell them apart is their lyrics. The beat, rhythm, and general pacing of each of the songs is very similar to every other song Levine has written. If played quietly, it’s unlikely many could tell the difference between “Maps” and “Animals,” for instance.
But the album is also a step forward for Maroon 5. The songs, while unremarkable, are more original than in past albums. While the feel is similar throughout the album, it has a much more 80s feel to it. I don’t know how else to describe it. The songs are the closest pop-rock has ever gotten to the Jackson 5 since, well, the Jackson 5—but it’s still very much Maroon 5’s music. It is rather appropriate, though, that Maroon 5’s fifth album, V is a la the Jackson 5—though nowhere near the quality.
It’s this mimicry that saves Maroon 5’s new album. No other major pop-rock group is currently trying to sound like any group from that time period, much less the Jackson 5. So while their music is nothing particularly new for Maroon 5, it is at least distinctive from much of the pop out there today. I also wish that the group could have come up with some topics other than love for their songs. Every single one of their songs has to do with love in some way. And, while love is an important thing to sing about, a little variety in song topics never hurt anyone.
The only other complaint that I have about the new album is that it relies a lot more heavily on electro music—that is, some of the songs could almost fall into the category of electro-pop-rock. While some people might welcome this change, I certainly do not. When people think of Maroon 5, they think of a soulful, rather repetitive but still unusual, pop-rock band. They do not think of anything remotely like Skrillex. While V is a long way away from becoming Skrillex, if Maroon 5 keeps heading in the direction they seem to be, they’re going to change genres completely, and I just don’t think the artists are talented enough to pull that off with finesse. Maroon 5 should stick with rock-pop, if the band knows what’s good for it.
Overall, V is one of Maroon 5’s better albums, but, in the world of music, it is nothing special. I enjoyed the nod at the Jackson 5 and 80s music in general, but otherwise it is really nothing worth listening to twice. Maroon 5, and more specifically Adam Levine, needs to step up its game if the band is going to keep up with an increasingly diverse audience.
First-year Preman Koshar is a staff writer. His email is email@example.com.