With over ten years’ worth of experience under their belt, Maroon 5’s fifth album V needed to emphasise the band’s strengths. Now with the return of keyboard player and songwriter Jesse Carmichael, who took a short break during the production of Overexposed, the band needed to prove they were able to make another track like ‘Moves Like Jagger’ which made dominating the charts look easy. V however fails to stray out of Maroon 5’s comfort zone, again with various pop-dance tracks. But praise is due to the band, as their sound has developed and matured, painting a picture of how all of their previous albums have collaborated to create this one.
The first track on the album is lead single ‘Maps’, echoing the style of Sting and The Police the song is catchy and similar to Maroon 5’s usual sound, so definitely a strong start for the album. The song was written alongside One Republic’s Ryan Tedder which is evident throughout, no one can deny Tedder knows his way around a pop song. The next track ‘Animals’ takes a similar repetitive theme, however has a heavy drum beat and the extra element of Adam Levine’s powerful iconic falsetto. Levines high notes’s began to mirror an animal howl towards the end of the song, so it did seem like a rather strange choice for the album.
One of the strongest tracks on the album is ‘It Was Always You’, less pop than some of the others, the song is more similar to the likes of previous album Overexposed with Maroon 5’s usual love/heartbreak lyrics. It is one of the few songs that didn’t feel too overcomplicated, which in this case produced a darker, more thoughtful product. ‘Unkiss Me’ contrasts entirely, a ballad providing a good level of variation to the album at this point and a nice addition. ‘Sugar’ however proved to be more of a filler than anything else due to its weaker chorus, but an upbeat feel-good track none the less.
‘Leaving California’ has more of a Songs About Jane vibe, but with the added pop-dance rhythm some of this effect was a bit lost. ‘Coming Back For You’ however was another good pop track from Maroon 5, reminding us of what they are capable of.
‘In Your Pocket’ mirrors the style of ‘Animals’ however the lyrics: “show me that phone in your pocket girl” seemed unimaginative. Also at times the album did just seem like it was boasting Levine’s vocal range with constant use of falsetto or high pitch vocals in the chorus’s, for example in ‘New Love’ and particularly dominantly in ‘Feelings’. ‘Feelings’ reminded me a little of a 90’s dance track, upbeat and chirpy but nothing special.
A stand out song on the album was the concluding ‘My Heart Is Open’, a collaboration with Gwen Stefani, and co-written with Sia. With just a simplistic piano, the song is heartfelt and powerful with very strong vocals. Although not quite what I was expecting when remembering Stefani’s usual style from things like ‘Hollaback Girl’ it still provided diversity on the album, and a good wind down for its end.
The deluxe edition also features extra tracks ‘Shoot Love’, ‘Sex And Candy’ a cover of Marcy Playground and ‘Lost Stars’ by Adam Levine featured and written for the film Begin Again. ‘Lost Stars’ really the only reason you would buy the deluxe edition, a gentle track with powerful lyrics exemplifying Levine’s vocal range without any unnecessary dance melody.
For Maroon 5’s older fans who held hope for more links to Songs About Jane on the return of one of the co-founders, Carmichael, unfortunately this album may disappoint, as Maroon 5’s journey to pop is now fairly set in stone and their pop-rock days behind them. Although containing several filler tracks, the album contains some very strong pop tracks such as ‘It Was Always You’ ‘Coming Back For You’ and single ‘Maps’. The album also has more variation than the last, such as ballad ‘Unkiss Me’. Overall the final product is more matured and specialised as Maroon 5 become more comfortable about the exact pop sound they want to create.
V will be released on 2nd September through Interscope Records.