Rating: 1 star
Far from the pop charms of Songs About Jane, Maroon 5 hit the club full force with Overexposed, a repetitive and lazy excuse for an album. All but two tracks are overproduced, cleaning up lead singer Adam Levine’s voice to robotically on-pitch perfection and confined to the same forced danceable tempo. The predictable, single-speed percussion keeps the group (or is it just Levine and a drum machine?) from switching things up and prevents them from making anything that resembles a hit song.
Such a boxed-in approach is disappointing after the freshness of “This Love” and “Harder to Breathe.” Admittedly, those jams came out ten years ago, and since then Maroon 5 has become more concerned with conformity. The one-size-fits-all dance floor sound is a major problem, but mixed in and even more confounding is the incorporation of hip-hop.
While Levine’s voice lends itself well to the likes of Kanye West and K’naan, when a rapper (here in the form of Wiz Khalifa on lead single “Payphone”) crosses over to his platform, the meshing backfires and ensnares the MC in the album’s cartoonish world. Later on, “Wipe Your Eyes” mysteriously samples Nas and Damian Marley’s “Patience.” The wailing foreign-tongue chorus, so appropriate on their Distant Relatives album, sounds terrible here and suggests not only a complete disconnect with hip-hop, but music in general.
Don’t Miss – “Sad”
Nine tracks in, Maroon 5 comes the closest to sounding like they still care. As Levine croons over a simple piano, he at last sounds human, his voice finally allowed to be its vulnerable but capable self. After so many gaudy anthems, there’s fear that the end of each verse will kick into a rip-roaring stadium anthem. Miraculously, the group resists and gives Overexposed its one decent number.
OK to Skip – “Daylight”
Everything but “Sad” is skippable. It’s tempting to foremost bash the ridiculous honkey-tonk cover of Prince’s “Kiss,” but since it’s more of an unfortunate anomaly, the prize goes to “Daylight.” Levine’s voice is at its overproduced, borderline-autotuned worst, accentuated by wordless wailing on the chorus. Each “oh-whoa-oh” is a dagger to the face and the next track, though hardly better, can’t come soon enough.