Maroon 5 erupted into the music scene in 2002 with hit songs like This Love, Harder to Breathe, and She Will Be Loved. Despite the success of their debut disc, Songs About Jane, the band took a long (and seemingly indefinite) five year hiatus.
The group, fronted by lead singer, Adam Levine (as well as guitarist James Valentine, keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, bass guitarist Mickey Madden and the newly added drummer, Matt Flynn) finally returned to the spotlight this year, and released their follow-up disc, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long. While their debut was composed of mostly pop/rock tunes, the band’s sound has transformed to a sort of pop/rock/funk hybrid that sounds surprisingly good. Beside the change in their sound, it seems the band has matured as songwriters and performers, and the result is a wonderful album that’s been on heavy rotation on my iPod.
The album opens with a light and breezy pop song, If I Never See Your Face Again. We are immediately introduced to Levine’s trademark falsetto, which along with the bouncy melody and catchy chorus makes for a perfect opener to the album. Next up is the lead single, Makes Me Wonder, which originally took a few listens for me to appreciate it. I’ll admit that the disco-sounding backing music still sounds a bit cheesy to me, but the song is one of the best on the album. With lyrics perfect for anyone getting over a breakup and another catchy chorus (“…And it really makes me wonder/If I ever gave a f**k about you/Give me something to believe in/’Cause I don’t believe in you/Anymore, anymore/I wonder if it even makes a difference to try/So this is goodbye”) it’s no wonder why this song is such a big hit. Sorry, that was a really bad pun. 😉
My current favorite comes next with Little Of Your Time. The song is the shortest on the album, coming in at only 2:17, but the melody is another one that will be hard to get out of your head. Sounding reminiscent of Outkast’s Hey Ya!, the track is a fast paced number that’s perfect for dancing around to. Levine’s voice shines as he rushes through the verses and choruses, and the song is a definite highlight on the album. Wake Up Call is being billed as the second single, and it’s pretty easy to see why. Though admittedly, the track doesn’t stick out during the first listens of the album, it’s still a strong addition to the CD. The charm lies in the lyrics, as Levine sings about finding his lover in bed with someone else (“Wake up call/Caught you in the morning with another one in my bed/Don’t you care about me anymore?/Don’t you care about me?/I don’t think so/Six foot tall/Came without a warning so I had to shoot him dead/He won’t come around here anymore/Come around here?/I don’t think so”). The clever lyrics, paired with another upbeat melody, will easily make the song a big hit.
The tempo slows down a bit with the first ballad, Won’t Go Home Without You. Despite the lyrics seeming like nothing more than an update of She Will Be Loved (“I asked her to stay but she wouldn’t listen/She left before I had the chance to say/The words that would mend the things that were broken/But now it’s far too late, she’s gone away/Every night you cry yourself to sleep/Thinking: ‘Why does this happen to me?/Why does every moment have to be so hard?’”), the song does have another memorable hook and chorus which makes it well worth listening to. The album’s better ballad is easily Nothing Lasts Forever. The chorus (which is taken from Levine’s 2006 collaboration on rapper Kanye West’s song Heard ‘Em Say) again happens to be highlight of the song (“Everyday/With every worthless word we get more far away/The distance between us makes it so hard to stay/But nothing lasts forever, but be honest babe/It hurts but it may be the only way”), but the calming piano and Levine’s hushed vocals add to the beauty of the song.
The tempo picks right back up with Can’t Stop, another bouncy pop song that sounds similar to Little Of Your Time. The song isn’t as immediately catchy as its predecessor, but still boasts a fun melody and lyrics (this time about being hooked on a crush). Another one of the album’s highlights is the funky Kiwi. The song immediately called Prince to mind when I heard it (particularly his song Peach); the racy lyrics (“So give it up, and don’t pretend/And spread your arms and legs across the bed/And when you shake, you won’t regret/The things I whisper in your ear/…Sweet kiwi/Your juices dripping down my chin/So please, let me/Don’t stop it before it begins), female vocalist (actress and singer, Rashida Jones (The Office) is on hand for the second verse) and guitar solo might seem like a complete rip-off of Prince’s formula, but the guys pull it off well and the result is a club-worthy song that’ll definitely make you want to dance.
Of course, the album has its dull moments. The beginning of Goodnight Goodnight sounds eerily similar to the opening bars of a 3 Doors’ Down (and now I can’t remember which one!), and that’s probably the most interesting part about the entire track. The guitar and piano create a colorless tune that makes me want to fall asleep, and even the lyrics seem awkward and poorly written (“I’m sorry, I did not mean to hurt my little girl/It’s beyond me, I cannot carry the weight of the heavy world/So goodnight, hope that things work out all right”). Not Falling Apart has a kind of 80’s/New Wave sound to it that starts off okay, but becomes pretty forgettable by the chorus. The song as a whole comes off as a b-side that shouldn’t have even made it on the album; while it’s not incredibly bad, I still don’t think it’s quite good enough to be placed alongside the better songs on the album. Better That We Break is another ballad, though this time so slow and dreary that you’ll probably doze off while listening to it.
The album comes to a close with another one of my favorites, Back At Your Door. The mid-tempo ballad again calls to the influence of Prince, and again, comes off quite well. The slow and sexy sounding verses are paired up with another memorable chorus, and Levine’s voice sounds smooth as he sings some of the best lyrics on the album (“From the moment the lights went off/Everything had changed/Lie awake in an empty room/In my head it all feels the same/Like the taste of the day you left/That still lingers on my breath/And the dampness of tears that left/A stain where you had wept…/No need to cry about it/I cannot live without it/Every time I wind up back at your door/Why do you do this to me?/You penetrate right through me”). Like with their debut album, Maroon 5 has again picked the perfect song to end the album.
It Won’t Be Soon Before Long is a great album. Though Maroon 5 has always been a talented band, it’s easy to see that they have matured with this release and the result is an album full of wonderfully composed, written, and performed songs that new and old fans alike will enjoy.
1. If I Never See Your Face Again
2. Makes Me Wonder
3. Little Of Your Time
4. Wake Up Call
5. Won’t Go Home Without You
6. Nothing Lasts Forever
7. Can’t Stop
8. Goodnight Goodnight
9. Not Falling Apart
11. Better That We Break
12. Back At Your Door