music / Reviews

Maroon 5 – Hand All Over Review

September 21, 2010 | Posted by Ben Czajkowski

1.”Misery”
2.”Give a Little More”
3.”Stutter”
4.”Don’t Know Nothing”
5.”Never Gonna Leave This Bed”
6.”I Can’t Lie”
7.”Hands All Over”
8.”How”
9.”Get Back in My Life”
10. “Just a Feeling”
11. “Runaway”
12. “Out of Goodbyes” (with Lady Antebellum)

Maroon 5 - Hands All Over 

Maroon 5 has been around for eight years now, so they have plenty to prove in such a crowded pop/rock, adult-contemporary scene. The quintet is returning from their sophomore effort in 2007, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long. Despite going platinum in multiple countries with that album, Maroon 5 still harkens to their foundation style of their multi-platinum debut CD, Songs About Jane, which featured popular hits “This Love” and “She Will Be Loved”. Between those two CDs, the band has succeeded at blending electro-pop, a little rock, some shoo-be-do-wap, and a ton of funky beats in a mostly-pleasing manner. With that said, what does Hands All Over have to offer?

More of the same, but definitely sophisticated and mature. I attributed a generous entitlement of that to the hand of producer Robert “Mutt” Lange, who has guided and polished installations like AC/DC’s Back in Black and Shania Twain. And that’s not a bad thing; consider the experience that Lange has. Maroon 5 has a formula that works for them, while taking a few liberties. After all, it’s garnished them several Grammy nominations. Why mess with that?

Maybe my perspective of this album is skewed by the scathing review I handed Linkin Park last week, and I desperately needed something fun and relatively mindless to listen to. Luckily, this album was easy to swallow and the perfect accompaniment to work while listening. The first single, “Misery”, kicks off the album. Despite the heart-broken lyrics, professing, well, misery:

I am in misery
There ain’t no other
Who can comfort me
Why won’t you answer me?
Your silence is slowly killing me

the song is paired with a fun, danceable beat: classic Maroon 5. It’s been around since June, and it’s cracked the Top 10 on a number of charts, worldwide. Give it a while, below, if you haven’t already:

“Misery”

 

“Give A Little More,” the second single, and “Runaway” offer another blend of feet-moving, hip-swaying beats that doesn’t overstay their welcomes. Adam Levine’s falsetto and the bordering-on-disco instrumentals reminds me very much of a song that Justin Timberlake or even Michael Jackson wouldn’t be ashamed to include on their album (yeah, that’s right. I said it). Critics of the band bash Levine’s style; I find it a nice respite from some of the more bland-sounding acts out there.

“Give A Little More”

 

Much of the album tries to keep the tone light and the feeling just right. Songs like “Stutter” and “Just a Feeling” are easy-listening and provide a nice break from the dance tunes that make up the core of the album. Levine’s technique is key, on much of the album, and it blends nicely with the instrumental work that the band wrote.

The album is on the shorter side: 12 tracks and clocking in just a hiccup over 40 minutes. None of the tracks even close in on four minutes. I found it to be two-thirds of an hour well-spent and that much of the pitfalls from the first two albums were learned from and actually overcome, for the most part. There are many points where the lyrics can be forgettable and interchangeable, but the soft-edged, love song “How” really delivered, emotionally:

Though I don’t understand the meaning of love
I do not mind if I die trying, ohhh
Took it for granted when you lifted me up
I’m asking for your help
I am going through hell
Afraid nothing can save me but the sound of your voice
You cut out all the noise
And now that I can see mistakes so clearly now
I’d kill if I could take you back

Levine strikes a strong cord with this lyric, in the bridge: “Why does the one you love/Become the one who makes you want to cry?” Isn’t that the truth, plain and simple?

While knowing what they do well, Maroon 5 wasn’t afraid to take a stab at some different tempos. “Hands all Over” borders on anthemic rock with a biting guitar technique. It’s no “Harder To Breathe”, but it has an antagonistic tone with respectable lyrics and a club-themed refrain. “Out of Goodbyes” (with Lady Antebellum) ventures down the narrow road of country, which was a bit of a shocker, compared to the rest of the album. Oddly enough, it’s one of the best songs on the album; I usually do not even venture toward liking country.

I came to the conclusion early that each of these songs is manufactured to be a hit, and, between you and me, I’m okay with that. Much of the music that I’ve listened to this year suffers from one or two tracks that are produced to be standout hits, and then much of the rest of the album is filler or failing, experimental work. So, this album is 100% safe for anyone who is looking for easy-listening, paint-by-numbers pop/rock that’s going to sell a lot of albums.  

 

The 411: Funky pop, infused with light rock and deliciously danceable instrumentals, easily describes Maroon 5's new album, Hands All Over. I found the album to be a solid blend of sounds (and even a little country), and if you can get past the interchangeable lyrics and the falsetto, I think you'll enjoy this; I know I did. It's light-hearted, for the most part, and it's definitely designed, from start to finish, to be hit after hit. That's probably why this band has gone platinum more than a half-dozen times, over the last 8 years. That will probably continue, with this album.
 
Final Score:  8.0   [ Very Good ]  legend

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Ben Czajkowski

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