Album Review: ‘V’ by Maroon 5

I’ve been excited for this album for as long as I can remember, and since we just got dismissed for early break in school, let’s get right to it.

1. Maps

My favourite track on the album, right from when it was released as a single. It’s tragic and the music video portrays the consequences of infidelity in a horrific way. But everything dark about this song is glossed over in the clean, fresh beats (and who could deny the pop-bright-summery effect of that cover art?). Adam Levine’s voice exceptionally stands out in this one, in not just the sweet verses, but also in the chorus that just never refuses to leave your head.

2. Animals

If there’s one thing that Maroon 5 never fails to do, it’s to produce ridiculously catchy singles album after album. “Animals” is no exception, and although it sounds a slightly generic and overproduced at times, it doesn’t fail to reach it’s goal of being a straight to the point electro-pop track. It fails at being subtle, and perhaps is borderline explicit, but the last few moments of the song is the best, with the words “No girl no lie, lie, lie, lie…” leaving its mark at the end.

3. It Was Always You

Hazel eyes, I was so colourblind, we were just wasting time.” Almost the opposite of “Maps” in terms of tone and message, this electro-pop ballad (with elements of rock infused in it) speaks about the revelation of love and desire, with the singer realizing that, well… It Was Always You. Revelation is portrayed as an awakening, as the lines, “Woke up sweating from a dream, with a different kind of feeling…” say. Dark in tone but is filled with hope, desire and newfound love.

4. Unkiss Me

“Unkiss Me” is a little bit different than the other tracks, and it took me a while to warm up to. It sounds like a soft-rock ballad, similar to “It Was Always You” but with less electronic elements and therefore less intensity in the bass and background music. It might be the big chorus that makes it sound like it was meant for a solo ballad instead of a band song, with heavy, strong drums and emotional pleas of regret and loss.

5. Sugar

Maybe it’s just me, but I am an absolute sucker for every sugary pop song that Maroon 5 churns out. (Ha, see what I did there.) It’s bright, it’s fun, and it just makes you feel so good. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to go out for a carnival ride by the seaside, and this track will be playing right behind you as you walk down the festivities of the carnival, laughing, smiling and just being surrounded by everything in the world that you love. It makes me want to dance endlessly, and that says something, as I despise dancing most of the time. Listen to it, it’ll brighten up your day.

6. Leaving California

Gorgeous song. “Leaving California” is the kind of song that you’d play at a road trip with your friends, when you’re sitting by yourself and you’re watching the sun peeking out of your rainy window pane. It’s a song that would feature as the big chant-inducing song at the stadium during a Maroon 5 concert. Again, this has a completely different feel to Maroon 5’s funk-soul roots, leaning in to a more (should I say it?) country vibe. But it’s a change that hits all the right notes, and any fan coming for a concert in the near future should be looking forward to this one, mark my words.

7. In Your Pocket

Here we go again. Back to the elctro-pop tones of “It Was Always You” but this time the message hits harder, faster and with more determination than the first time. Continuing with the theme of infidelity from “Maps”, the singer demands, “Show me that phone in your pocket girl, show me that phone in your pocket.” And the track continues to build up towards the end with a crescendo until the song cuts at the end. It’s not the most memorable song they’ve produced, and it does come off as bland, with forgettable verses and a rather strange, repetitive chorus that will either stay in your head for the best, or the worst.

8. New Love

“New Love” is the kind of song that stands right in the middle of being, put in simple terms, mediocre or great. It all comes down to taste on this one, placed right in the middle of the album, feels like a transition between the first and second half of the album. It deals with forgiveness and second chances, with the lyrics, “And if I ever let you down, would it kill you to forgive me?” It’s an encouraging song in a way, filled with hope and stands right an the brink of dawn, and the title fits perfectly into the chorus, making listeners actually believe that the singer will, indeed, regain a New Love.

9. Coming Back For You

I’ve noticed that this album makes use of the electro-pop-rock elements so much, most of them sound similar to one another at first, but “Coming Back For You” was one of the tracks that stood out to me at first listen. It’s beautiful and haunting the same time, drawing you in with the deep bass sounds in the verses, and the passionate declarations of “You know that I’m coming back for you, don’t you worry girl.” in the chorus. It’s believable, it’s real, and it’s definitely one of the best tracks on the album.

10. Feelings

Get this: think “Sugar” fused with “American Boy” by Estelle and just the sound of sweet, sweet, psychedelic dance tunes. “I got these feelings for you, and I can’t help myself no more…” I think that sums up the song flawlessly. Adam Levine’s voice is highlighted in this one, soaring high in the falsetto notes in the chorus, perfectly in sync with the funky guitar and bass instrumentals in the background. It’s another one of those feel-good tracks that you’d imagine yourself walking into the club to, with flashy electro-beats and and undeniably addicting Feelings.

11. My Heart Is Open (feat. Gwen Stefani)

Yes. Yes. Yes. It’s simple and stripped down, right to the piano and the vocals and the soft strings occasionally adding to the melody. It’s a beautiful ballad, with Gwen Stefani complementing Adam Levine’s vocals wonderfully. Carrying a similar feeling to Maroon 5′ s previous collaboration with Lady Antebellum in “Out Of Goodbyes” this song is emotional, but not devastating, and it shines, but with a gentle glimmer instead of a strike of lightning.

12. Shoot Love

A few of the songs on this album carry the same stylistic formula, with dark funk-rock tunes infused with rhythmic beats and choruses that show off Adam Levine’s falsetto range, as the lyrics harp on about endless angst and dysfunctional relationships between the singer and the audience. However, in “Shoot Love” the song seems to neither show the ability to emotionally or melodically latch on to the audience. Parts of the chorus gives it a moment or two of excitement, but the rest of the song drowns out any hope of it being a unique or memorable track in any way.

13. Sex and Candy

Warning: be prepared to experience a time warp to Songs About Jane. It’s smooth, sultry, with slow beats and classic melodies that resemble the funk-blues tone they used to be strung in back in the day. With this song, the only difference is that it’s produced better, with less instrumentals in between the chorus and the final verses, as you would expect from earlier Maroon 5 albums. Except this is the new Maroon 5, covering a Marcy Playground song in the best way they know how, and it works effortlessly.

14. Lost Stars

“Lost Stars” is a song originally written for the movie Adam Levine was starring in back this summer, Begin Again. Upon the first time hearing it, it instantly became one of my favourites. Not a favourite Maroon 5 song, mind you, because this song clearly doesn’t reflect the band’s usual sound and genre. It’s a pure pop ballad, and Adam Levine brings it to life. It’s a song you’d fall in love with, as well as a song you’d fall in love to. Despite the sentimental lyrics saying, “But are we all lost stars, trying to light up the dark?” the part of the song that shines the brightest are the last verses, where the melody skyrockets into Adam Levine’s sweet range. I fell for that completely, and surrendered myself to the song at the very moment the notes soared into space. It immediately transformed the last quarter of a song to a 90’s retro ballad, freeing every bit of magic in the song until it reaches your heart.

Did the “V” album reach my heart? Absolutely. It took a while to warm up to, but once I managed to put aside my preconceived expectations (or criticisms) I enjoyed it thoroughly, and it was a strong addition to my precious collection of Maroon 5 albums. Every album has distinguished itself from its predecessors in one way or another, and “V” was no exception.

I wonder what everyone else thought of the album? Opinions and thoughts are always welcome, there’s never such thing as too much discussion about Maroon 5, so yes, feel free to drop by a few comments! I’ll be back with a book review of Eleanor and Park very soon, which I am ridiculously excited about, but yes, that’s for another post.

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Indonesian. 20. English major at the University of Bristol.

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