The 5 go steady on their latest effort, but could be missing a little Jane.
Adam Levine's muse Jane, (Who was the inspiration for Maroon 5's classic pop/rock album 'Songs About Jane') may just be his gift and his curse. Sure Maroon 5's first album after their previous effort as Kara's Flowers may have propelled them to international stardom but it also set the bar high for the young band. What resulted was an almost guaranteed sophomore slump. 'It Won't Be Soon Before Long' wasn't a bad album it just didn't live up nearly as much to it's predecessor. It had hits like 'Makes Me Wonder' and 'Wake Up Call' but as Adam channeled Prince and The Police he also learned that the only ones who could really do that are 'The Artist' and Sting themselves. Over recent years as artists Maroon 5 and Adam Levine have felt the sting being the butt of jokes on Family Guy and having Levine compared to John Mayer for all the wrong reasons (In regards to them being more Lotharios than singers).
The trouble for Maroon 5 is how do they write another 'This Love', 'Sunday Morning' or 'She Will Be Loved' (to mention just a few of 'Jane's' best moments) well they know the answer, they don't. A band just has to carry on and try something different and at least that's what Levine et al have tried to do. Because like it or not 'Hands All Over' sounds more like their last album than their first, but the difference is it sounds a lot more complete and a lot more polished.
'Hands All Over' is consistent all over and doesn't lose weight towards the end like 'It Won't Be Soon (Before We Hear Some Filler)'. It's as poppy ('How'), as funky, ('Runaway') as soulful ('I Can't Lie') and as rocky ('Hands All Over') as the band has ever been and although this sound may be like change rattling on metal for some people the difference will pay off for others. The single and album opener 'Misery' is classic Maroon 5 and although we may have heard it all before it still serves as a welcome return. The bands second album cut and single 'Give A Little More' written by Levine, Jesse Carmichael and James Valentine bests the first single by being a more well rounded, well written pop song. Featuring a catchy bridge and hook that will carry the song over to the pop charts, sinking the competition.
In fact the album continues to showcase Levine's incredible ability to write catchy hooks and rhythms. This is especially evident on tracks like 'Stutter' (which features a clever use of the phrase) and the title track, which feels like an 80's throwback (and that's a good thing). Also the duet with Lady Antebellum 'Out of Goodbyes' shows yet again that Levine can hold his own going toe to toe as the leading man with the best female singers around (See, Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Mary J. Blige). 'Just A Feeling' however is the track that stands out the most. If 'Misery' is classic Maroon 5 than 'Feeling' is vintage. It's right up there with 'Sweetest Goodbye' and 'Goodnight, Goodnight'. The ballad is definitely a song you will repeat and not skip on your ipod shuffle even months after this album is synced.
So even though Maroon 5 may never have it as good as they did when they used to mess with a girl called Jane on their latest they prove that it will be long before their soon done. They still have the ability to write catchy pop/rock songs with soul and funk like no other band today. Both Levine and his 5 will still have 'Hands All Over' them for some time to come. TIM DAVID HARVEY