If Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane or even sophomore success It Won’t Be Soon Before Long was pop gold, then Overexposed is Maroon 5’s solid copper statue here in 2012.
With Overexposed, the group’s fourth studio release, there was a different styling sensed off the bat. After the smash success of the dance-pop drug “Moves Like Jagger,” the band turned harder, faster and curiously more feisty.
Maroon 5’s first single this time around was different in its own way, though: like “Moves Like Jagger,” the song wasn’t about the frustrating hardships of a constantly high-low relationship. Unlike “This Love” and “Misery”, “Payphone” was like all the rest on the charts. Hollywood producers have a habit of placing big names like Christina Aguilera and Wiz Khalifa into top 40 plugs as a means of attracting people of all types. Maroon 5 fell victim to this trend for the first time, and consequently sacrificed intellectual inspiration and devout honesty in the meantime.
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Noting strict business, the charmer played all the right moves for the lead single’s exhausted efforts. The Wiz Khalifa featurette was worth a genuine “WTF,” but the song was as catchy and fresh to hold off M5 fans until Overexposed’s June 26 release. Its glittery melody lit up the airwaves instantly and contained such infectious energy to surge it to the top of the charts in no time.
One way of explaining Overexposed and its conceptual shallowness is to remind fans that you can only have so many expertly manufactured hooks before the scheme is unforgivable. Each song takes advantage of singer Adam Levine’s falsetto and the band’s snappy guitar chirps and finds a way of making them sound as appealing as possible. The result ends up being ridiculously savory but also transparently unsupported.
In the band’s 10-year recording history, every song on their album had a purpose and a place regardless of chart appeal. Crooners like “Sweetest Goodbye” and “Never Gonna Leave This Bed” never garnered unprecedented attention but remained brilliantly stimulating regardless. Though some songs on Overexposed (“Daylight” and “Wipe Your Eyes,” admirably, for example) are similar to these wonderful sheltered hits, none match their wondrously romantic quality.
This album is about a broken heart. There are lines like “she got me, she got me, she got me” and “his feeling keeps growing/ these rivers keep flowing/ How can I have answers when you drive me in questions.” So why does the entire collection of feelings feel so generic and unmemorable?
“One More Night” might be the album’s smartest moment. It leads with the drum beats that eventually carry every song on the album to a finish, along with spooky vocal riffs and “oooh” sounds and charging spats of lyrics that set a fiery tone for what might come further on. Later, “The Man Who Never Lied” takes the album’s lyrical pinnacle with a smart smoothness before the listener is able to realize it repeats nearly three more times after the second verse.
It’s almost as if Levine and the boys had their mind on their money when they put together this album. It has pop strength but none of the alt-rock execution that made them so masterful to begin with. Don’t ever dumb yourself down like Maroon 5 did. It’s not cute on anybody.