Written by Chris Panico
Maroon 5’s fifth studio album, which marked the return of keyboardist/guitarist Jesse Carmichael after a two-year hiatus, was met with anticipation by long-time Maroon fans. Unfortunately for them, the album’s title is just about the most creative thing on it.
As I was listening to the new recordings, the word cliche kept popping into my head during every song. Cliches are a fine line of course, but the band stayed pretty much on the wrong side of it throughout the album. With track titles such as “It Was Always You,” “Sugar,” and “My Heart Is Open,” it isn’t really surprising that the songs themselves lack creativity. Most of the tunes seem to go nowhere from a musical standpoint. The lead single for the album “Maps” is a perfect example, sounding like it could have been made mostly out of factory produced loops and a little too much reverb.
Lyrically the album falls flat. A listener could count on one hand the number of unique images that come up. That is, of course, if they can find their way through the sea of generic, vague lines. To illustrate my point, the first verse of “Coming Back For You” reads thus:
Looking at the same sky that we used to live under
Are you thinking about the love that I took from us?
When you close your eyes
Do you see me love?
Am I keeping you awake?
Whatcha scared about?
Are you giving up?
When you know, you know, you know
The lyrics speak for themselves, I think.
Initially I was really excited to see that Gwen Stefani was featured on the album. In the right setting, her and Adam Levine could have really created a great dynamic. However, the love ballad “My Heart Is Open” is just not the right place for her. She sounded far from her best on the recording and I can’t help but feel like the band missed a great opportunity by not featuring her on a more pop-rock style song.
“Animals” is the second single for V and, to it’s credit, it is probably the strongest tune on the album. A sense of attitude and urgency is present on the track that seems to be lacking for the rest of the album. However, it does share the same lack of creativity as the other songs. Using animals as a metaphor for sexual ferocity is as far from original as humanly possible. Let’s not forget, Nickelback even did it.