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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It Won't Be Soon Before Long

Maroon 5 have a gimmick. It’s a gimmick that works but a gimmick, nonetheless. Adam Levine sings suggestive lyrics over throbbing bass and drums and we all swoon. On their previous album, Songs About Jane, this formula seemed new and fresh. On It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, their latest release, the point is made. We get it, boys. You write sexy, infectious funky music. Can we move on now? I haven’t decided if I really want to, myself.

Levine’s high tenor sings of randomly hooking up. A lot. In “If I Never See Your Face Again,” he’s surprised about getting further than he expected to that night with some chick. However, on “Makes Me Wonder,” their first single, he’s already giving her the brush-off. He’s wondering if he should cry and “if I ever gave a fuck about you.” That was fast.

The beginning of “Little of Your Time” is probably my favorite opener to any of the tracks. I want someone on “So You Think You Can Dance” to choreograph a dance to it. It aches to be danced to, with its staccato guitar at the verses easing into a smoother and disco-y-er chorus. Levine is an adept singer, with an interestingly…soulful voice for a skinny Jewish kid. (In fact, when I first heard Songs About Jane, I was sure he was black.)

“Wake Up Call” is their most recent single. It’s a song of betrayal and doubt, “Don’t you care about me anymore?” It sounds like a fantasy of revenge, with a chorus that invites screaming along to. I can’t tell if this song is taking itself too seriously, or if it’s actually written to just be a dance jam.

“Won’t Go Home Without You,” the first song on the album that doesn’t pulse with an intense bass-drums combo, sounds a little bit like “Every Breath You Take” by The Police running under “The Way” by Fastball. It’s just nothing new. Neither is “Nothing Lasts Forever.” Both are safe, tepid ballads about relationship regrets. They’re easy on the ears but just not that interesting.

“Can’t Stop” is one of the catchier songs on an album full of them. It’s about the inevitable obsession phase, when you’re not quite getting the attention from someone that you’re craving: “I touch myself like it’s somebody else/thoughts of you are tattooed on my mind.” The refrain “I can’t stop thinking about you” is repeated until the very end of the song.

The opening guitar riff of “Goodnight Goodnight” is pretty much exactly that which opens “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down; it’s distracting. He’s sending her off in this song, hopeful that things will work out. Otherwise, the lyrics are just “goodnight.” (That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the lyrics do leave something to be desired. The song ends with him repeating “goodnight” 13 times. That’s too many.)

On “Not Falling Apart,” Levine sings in a startlingly lower key for much of the verses. It adds an element of interest to the track, about a man girded against the heartbreak he may or may not have to endure, as he relives the night of their breakup.

“Kiwi” contains the lyrics: “Sweet Kiwi/your juices dripping down my chin” and continues in graphic and poetic detail to describe a rendezvous. It’s the closest to pop music erotica as I think they could get away with, so hats off to them for at least that.

“Better that We Break” is the piano ballad on the album. It’s definitely pretty. That’s about it.

I do really like the track “Back at Your Door.” The verses are a bit of a throwback to the old doowop songs. I want to hear girl backup singers “da-dooping” in the background. And the song soars into a very pretty orchestrated chorus. This song is definitely the big finale of the album.

The “bonus” track, “Figure It Out,” starts with a cowbell and jerks into heavy distorted guitar and “Never-Gonna-Get-It”-by-En-Vogue-like electric guitar picks. It’s another very sexy song, in terms of the guitar and drums combination.

Like I said, these boys know what they’re doing, in that regard. I just wish a little bit that I could distinguish the songs better between each other and that they left a more lasting impression. But yes, they’ve got sexy down.

1 comment:

Rachiewrites said...

As I listen to Maroon 5, much as I enjoy it, so many of their songs are derivative. What bothers me is that I can't think who they sound like! The groups you name aren't known to me, so does that mean that M5's music is doubly derivative? I love them, anyway, however. Great review, as usual!