Maroon 5 made their boldest move into commercial pop yet with 2012 album Overexposed. That album spawned the monster hits Moves Like Jagger with Christina Aguilera and Pay Phone and was helped by frontman Adam Levine’s on-going exposure as one of the coaches on The Voice US. Two years on from that release and the band has released their fifth album V following the success of lead single Maps.
If fans of the band thought that Maroon 5 had embraced pop on Overexposed then they’ll find that new album V is the poppiest effort from the group yet. Their early days of being rock/pop seem a long time ago don’t they? For V they’ve teamed up with producers and writers including Benny Blanco, Max Martin, Ryan Tedder, Darkchild and Shellback. The album opens with current single Maps which borrows inspiration from The Police giving the band a strong radio-friendly lead single.
What is impressive about V is that it contains a real variety of pop music sounds. No two songs on the album sound the same and Levine proves to have a much more versatile voice than we’ve previously thought. Second single Animals marries a constant beat with almost speak-rap verses before allowing Levine to showcase his trademark falsetto whilst Unkiss Me is one of the album’s big ballad moments that sounds a little like OneRepublic even though Tedder wasn’t involved with it at all.
Elsewhere on the album falsetto is the order of the day on the laid-back summer groove of Sugar, New Love could be an electro-pop boyband single, and Coming Back For You has future hit single written all over it. The duet with Gwen Stefani, My Heart Is Open, is surprising for two reasons; one it’s a ballad and two it was co-produced and co-written by Darkchild. We had expected a pop rush from a collaboration between Maroon 5 and Stefani so we have to say we are a little disappointed with this track.
One of the highlights on the album is Feelings. Despite its similarities to Estelle’s American Boy, the track is catchy as hell and one that you’ll be singing in your head for a while after you’ve heard it. The band sound like they really are letting go and the end result is pop magic.
The deluxe edition of the album features three additional tracks. Shoot Love is a mid-tempo pop track, Sex and Candy is a cover of the 1997 Marcy Playground hit and Lost Stars is a solo moment from Levine taken from his recent movie Begin Again.
V is a strong album from Maroon 5 but isn’t likely to do anything to change their detractors opinions. We like that the band have embraced pop and decided to explore the genre. Overexposed could easily have been a one-off experiment but clearly the band’s fans like them when they are more commercial. V is an album that we’ll definitely have on repeat and is a contender for our pop album of the year.