Saturday 20 January 2018

Lack of musical focus leaves music Marooned

John Meagher

John Meagher

album of the week

maroon 5




Not so long ago, Maroon 5 main man Adam Levine was boasting about his band's do-it-yourself credentials. "No one has ever written a note for this band who wasn't in the inner circle," he told Billboard magazine.

Fast-forward just two years, and the Californian has changed his tune.

After their third album stiffed, Levine seems more than happy to expand that inner circle.

Enter no fewer than 18 songwriters and producers, including original Britney tunesmith Max Martin and in-demand Ryan Tedder, whose credits include the omnipresent Adele.

The result is an album that tries very hard to appeal to a global audience and to colonise a radio station near you. But despite a veritable army of hit-makers Overexposed feels slight and patchy.

The songs have been buffed to a high sheen in the studio and, in places, Levine demonstrates a vocal range that Justin Timberlake -- for one -- might trade his movie career for.

Yet, these tracks end up flailing about in search of a killer melody or the sort of hooks to snare even the uncommitted.

All too often good ideas are executed in a so-so manner. Payphone had the potential to be another Heard 'Em Say, but Wiz Khalifa's rap won't trouble Kanye West and the song's six credited songwriters fail to sprinkle enough gold dust to make you care.

Furthermore, Levine's expletives don't signpost a daring artist keen to take risks, but rather someone with a juvenile need to be noticed.

Elsewhere, Levine tries to pull on the heartstrings with the bittersweet Sad, but there's something insincere about his delivery and the composition might have been more successfully realised in another's hands.

It says something about the lack of substance on the album that the most successful number is a bonus song -- a live recording of last year's smash hit Moves Like Jagger, which sees Levine and fellow The Voice US judge, Christina Aguilera, trying to outdo each other in the vocal department.

Not for the first time, one is left to wonder how a woman with a frame as diminutive as hers is in possession of such lift-the-roof vocals.

It makes you think that, in all likelihood, the song's wide-reaching appeal -- a whopping eight million sales, and counting -- is probably more to do with her than Levine.

KEY TRACK Moves Like Jagger (live)

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