Overexposed review by Maroon 5

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  • Released: Jun 26, 2012
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 6.3 Neat
  • Users' score: 5.8 (48 votes)
Maroon 5: Overexposed
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Sound — 6
If (like me) you thought that it was virtually impossible for an act as shamelessly commercial as Maroon 5 to "sell out", think again. Maroon 5 weren't too content (to say the least) with the tepid commercial reception of their third album "Hands All Over" (which also went platinum, by the way) - it was a creamy-smooth blend of pop, rock, soul/funk that perfectly encapsulated their character as an organic self-contained pop band (in my opinion, it's still their best album yet). Just as Maroon 5's commercial prospects seemed to have finally leveled out, frontman Adam Levine landed a stint as a vocal coach on NBC's "The Voice" and the band worked with chart-topping pop songwriters to deliver their biggest hit yet - "Moves Like Jagger" (also featuring fellow "The Voice" judge Christina Aguilera), a light, funky breezy-as-a-whistle summer tune that topped charts the world over and shot Maroon 5 squarely into pop's hot-and-happening lists once again after a fairly long time. Overexposed makes no reservations about following the "Jagger" blueprint - unfortunately, it's a formula that falls flat if it's used liberally. Aside from the seemingly endless supply of barely engaging, assembly-line hooks doled out by a bevy of mercenary pop songwriters and producers, on this record Maroon 5 seems to have embraced a very generic Top 40 template instead of the distinctive blue-eyed soul/R&B flavor that up until now had instantly set them apart from any other act on the charts.

Lyrics — 7
Anyone who's remotely familiar with Maroon 5 knows what to expect in the lyrics department - breakups, lost love, obsession, sexual fireworks, etc all the cliches that Adam Levine & Co. Have so successfully ridden to the top of the charts for the past decade. However, usually Maroon 5's music was engaging and soulful enough to make the lyrics easy to digest - not so here, and the hammy lyrics occasionally stick out like a sore thumb ("She's got tickets to her own show / But nobody wants to go / And I'm still sitting in the front row" is one example). However musically the band may divert from its trademark sound here, the moment Adam Levine's vocals come into play there's no mistaking who you're listening to. His falsetto is still strong, clear and nasal and his high register delivers with all the playboy professionalism of a pop idol. However, at times the vocals are too processed for their own good and the material that they're given to work with is (for the most part) nowhere near as strong as it was on Maroon 5's previous records.

Overall Impression — 6
Not all of the album is a dud, however, and there's still potential for strong singles (although they don't match up to the ones off Maroon 5's previous records), such as lead single "Payphone" - which is much better in its alternate version that replaces Wiz Khalifa's pointless rap with an added verse (this version is inexplicably not included on any of the album releases). "One More Night" is an uptempo reggae-flavored tune with dark lyrics (this album's "Misery"?) that will have you tapping your feet in no time, and "Beautiful Goodbye" is a gorgeous romantic ballad. If there's anything that this record proves about Maroon 5 (aside from their insatiable appetite for the charts), it's that their distinctive sense of soul only becomes apparent when it's taken away from them. The album overall has a very processed, made-in-Pro Tools sound in contrast to the meticulously constructed but organic "actual band" vibe that imbued their previous records. And the fact that keyboardist Jesse Carmichael (Maroon 5's principal songwriter along with Levine up until now) sat out for this record doesn't help. There's a lesson to be learnt by Maroon 5 here - these guys do best when they're left to their own shtick, but as long as it keeps them high up on the charts, it's doubtful that they're bothered by it.

18 comments sorted by best / new / date

    mercury23
    i love it when a band has a drummer and a guitarist and there are no guitars and fake drums on an album....
    sum1udunno
    I love Maroon 5 but I was really disappointed by this album. They stood out from the standard pop/rock band because they were funky and soulful and I didn't really see a lot of that on this album.
    kairuu
    I may sound like a hipster but really, Maroon 5 is too mainstream and it's irritating.
    Armagedn
    mercury23 wrote: i love it when a band has a drummer and a guitarist and there are no guitars and fake drums on an album....
    I can't vouch for this album, but I saw them live about a year ago (They came to my college for free, so I figured why the hell not), and they rocked. Both the singer and the guitarist can rip up some solos, and the live show had a huge rock element that isn't quite so present on the albums. Lots and lots of extended solos. I gained a lot of respect for them after seeing them.
    Miyagi84
    Armagedn wrote: mercury23 wrote: i love it when a band has a drummer and a guitarist and there are no guitars and fake drums on an album....I can't vouch for this album, but I saw them live about a year ago (They came to my college for free, so I figured why the hell not), and they rocked. Both the singer and the guitarist can rip up some solos, and the live show had a huge rock element that isn't quite so present on the albums. Lots and lots of extended solos. I gained a lot of respect for them after seeing them.
    I've seen them live too, while the Adam Levine is deceptively good at the guitar, him and the other guitarist aren't that amazing. They know their way around theinstrument for sure but I wasn't amazed... the key to the band is (err, well used to be was that Adam and the keyboardist knew their way around a melody and Adam has a catchy voice, enough to make them one of the most popular bands of the past decade.) I just heard the single payphone... absolute shit and it doesn't sound like them at all. You can tell the song was just a vessel for Adams voice and doesn't include any member of the band besides him.
    demon.guitarist
    Yeah it's formulaic, completely transparent, it's outrageously commercialised pop and it's nowhere close to the 'old' Maroon 5 I love - but it's a very well done album that achieves its purpose in being memorable, formulaic, outrageously commercialised pop. And well... it's good fun.
    guitarist41
    Heard the latest single on TV, and burst out laughing as soon as the guy started singing.
    Paroxysm
    Wasn't really a big fan of Maroon 5 until I saw them live several years back. This album have some decent tunes, but Hands All Over overall was better.
    JPScralatchtica
    Yep, I normally can't stand those ppl that don't like to see change and progression in a band, but this album is definitely overproduced! And I'm going to say that overused/hipster/rolling stoneish phrase, "their first albums were better". With "Songs About Jane" and "It Won't Be Soon Before Long", Maroon 5 was my guilty pleasure! They had so much funk and soul that I felt was missing from today's music scene. This album is lacking that feeling and I seriously wonder if the band members had any creative input to the music. I know they used outside writers this time so... This album feels more like an Adam Levine solo album. That being said, I liked "One More Night". It has a nice bass line and a cool reggae-tinged guitar and it's catchy as hell.
    chrisvasco23
    im not a fan of the band but my wife loves it. i cant lie but payphone is friggin catchy.. minus that terrible rap section.
    LightxGrenade
    Much like the rest of you I wasn't too impressed with this album. But it does pick up a bit in the end. Wasted Years and Kiss are the last two songs on the album and to me they're far and away the best tracks on the album but One More Night is probably the only other song I genuinely like. Liking 3/15 songs on an album by a band I like a lot well...that just plain sucks
    faceestrella
    I can say it is not their best work, but it isn't BAD outright definitely overproduced and too commercialized for its own good, but a few songs were good, Sad though repetitive lyrically, there was something in the ballad that was very true, and the whole piano and voice only thing was a breath of fresh air, compared to some other tracks, and Beautiful Goodbye was another song I really liked, I wished that instead of 4 pointless remixes of payphone and moves like jagger being thrown in n the deluxe version, the alternate payphone was included, it is fine for the maroon 5 fan, not winning any awards for me, but if they want to get into the charts, then this is one way, i wish they would still have some soul in the music though.