Album Review: Maroon 5 ‘Overexposed’
Well, that’s a worrying title. People of the Earth be warned: the pop stars are becoming self-aware. Soon they will realize their true potential and bypass the consumer process entirely, coming directly into your homes to motivate you while you are work out, distract you while you should be productive, and to coach you on your rhythm during sex.
Unfortunately, Maroon 5’s awareness of their level of saturation in the pop market doesn’t necessarily mean that they can easily beat the problem. It’s meant to be a funny and slightly self-deprecating statement, but it’s also completely true. Maroon 5 have certainly been overexposed, and more to the point Adam Levine has been, with his collaborations and judging gig on The Voice.
Knowing all of this–and we can be sure that they do know all of this–it seems likely that they would want to put out a very different record to keep people interested.
The album begins with ska guitar and a hiphop beat, very effectively showcasing the career trajectory of the band in what seems again to be a knowing, tongue-in-cheek nod to their overexposure, but in this case probably isn’t. This is exactly what anyone would expect from them, and so goes the rest of the record.
‘Payphone’ is pretty much a single made from a plastic mold. That said, it is still the highlight of the album, because it stands out and provides an early moment of excitement. From that point on, Overexposed bleeds together and seems to make no serious attempt at grabbing and holding the listener’s attention. There is certainly no ‘Harder to Breathe’ here, and nothing that comes close to the sincere, confident energy the band has sometimes been known for. This is an album lacking sorely in aggression.
Not only is it a safe record, but an altogether boring one. It’s fine that the band is less interested in rock music these days, but for an album that they have no shame in announcing as much poppier than their past work, it’s surprisingly slow and monotonous. Almost every song has the heart of a weepy ballad, and if the hope is that the mellow pace will be overcome by its poignancy and ability to move people, I really wouldn’t bank on it. Many of the songs don’t seem to land at all, and at times Adam Levine comes across as very insincere.
It’s a decent record, but records that are simply decent should probably be a lot more fun than this is. There are good moments, and Adam’s voice is great, but the rest of the band seems largely irrelevant, and the whole experience just feels lethargic.
In the end Overexposed may be able to alleviate the problem of saturation in a strange way: by being overlooked, because it doesn’t seem likely to hold anyone’s attention for very long. With a bit of luck it will be completely ignored, and when the band comes out with a new and better record a few years from now it will be just the same as if they had taken a hiatus–which it seems they probably should have.
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Image Courtesy of A&M / Octone Records