On their latest album, Red Pill Blue, Maroon 5 move in an RnB direction, while still providing catchy pop choruses.
The best songs come towards the end of the record, with Who I Am offering a smooth, trippy keyboard movement, with singer Adam Levine sounding at his most comfortable with smooth melodies over the ambient chill backdrop. Whiskey isn’t too dissimilar, with the bit-crushed synth chords adding a nice change in dynamics. Lyrically, Levine is up to his old tricks, conveying stories of broken relationships – “I never knew that love was blind. I was hers, but she was never mine.”
The 11-minute Closure is a chilled jazz number, with a seven-minute jam session switching between guitar and saxophone solos, and Lips On You is sombre, and atmospheric. These four tracks highlight the group’s talent and diversity, but much of the remaining songs fail to live up these same standards, often sounding forced.
Help Me Out is one of the catchier songs, but Levine’s falsetto is so strained it becomes almost comical. Wait and Best 4 You have heavily auto-tuned vocals over trap beats, but fails to sound modern or exciting. What Lovers Do tries to emulate Who I Am, but the repeated vowel phrases, synth stabs and handclaps are incredibly generic. If you boiled down every song from the past 18 months, it would be this.
Red Pill Blue might not offer many exciting moments, but Maroon 5 still has something to offer, even if Levine is still singing about the same relationship topics since the band broke out in 2003.
Edited by Ginny Wong