Maroon 5 plays it safe on Overexposed
The title of Maroon 5’s new album, Overexposed, pokes fun at the band’s ubiquity, which is mainly due to the massive (and at times annoying) hit “Moves Like Jagger,” as well as frontman Adam Levine’s popularity as a judge on NBC’s The Voice.
While the band is to be congratulated on all that exposure, it seems as if they’ve lost sight of how to make a good album in the process.
Their fourth release has some highlights, but it’s mainly boring and safe, with the group taking a more pop approach and stepping away from their rock foundation. The result sounds like the boys are purposely playing to the Top 40-crowd and iTunes singles buyers. The songs lack edge and oomph: First single “Payphone” is one of the year’s worst songs; “Fortune Teller” and “Tickets” are just as bad.
Overexposed was produced by hit-makers like Max Martin and “Jagger” producers Benny Blanco and Shellback; all three men have crafted smashes for Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Ke$ha and many others. “Daylight,” co-written by Martin and Levine, sounds like a bad Coldplay cover and “The Man Who Never Lied,” produced by Noah “Mailbox” Passovoy, echoes Irish rockers The Script.
Even the uber-talented Ryan Tedder — whose client list includes Adele and Beyonce — can’t completely save Maroon 5: He produced “Lucky Strike” and “Love Somebody,” and they are just mediocre.
Overexposed is miles away from the band’s debut, 2002’s Songs About Jane; that album was flawless with its raw lyrics. Maroon 5’s other releases were also good, and at moments, great. But their new effort is an attempt to stay on the charts, and that’s unfortunate for a group that has artistic depth and credibility.
The Associated Press
DAYS GO BY
With The Offspring’s largely hard-charging ninth album, Days Go By, the kings of Southern California punk-metal-pop show no sign of slipping into self-satisfied maturity.
Despite the many irritating imitators out there, no one does The Offspring better than The Offspring. The rapid tempos, electric guitar crunch and speed and observant lyrics that the band is famous for come together in classic Offspring style.
Singer-guitarist Dexter Holland shows his serious side in several songs, especially the politically tinged opening tracks “The Future Is Now” and “Secrets from the Underground.”
There’s more gravity in “Days Go By,” a song propelled by Cult-like guitar riffs, featuring a cool neo-psychedelic guitar break and general mood of resolve. Holland’s “Days Go By” lyrics send a mixed message of hope and acceptance of the inevitable passing of time.
The Offspring lightens up with “Cruising California (Bumpin’ In My Trunk),” a silly summer rap song, as well as the more conventionally Offspring-ian “I Wanna Secret Family (With You).”
“Cruising California” and the reggae-hip-hop-Latin “OC Guns” make the album a musical variety show. The high-spirited, Dr. Strangelove-inspired “Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell” ends The Offspring’s new blast of super-tight, passionate and irreverent studio work with a party song for the end of the world.
Dr. Michael White
ADVENTURES IN NEW ORLEANS JAZZ: PART 2
Traditional jazz clarinetist and band leader Dr. Michael White follows his imaginative and fun 2011 album, Adventures in New Orleans Jazz: Part 1, with a like-minded encore.
Part 2, like Part 1, features White and his musicians playing traditional repertoire as well as interpretations of unexpected material in traditional jazz style.
Already a Louisiana music staple, Hank Williams’ Cajun-inspired 1952 country hit, “Jambalaya,” is a natural fit for White and company. Another Louisiana-inspired song, Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee,” gets a swinging traditional jazz arrangement.
Staying on American soil, Adventures in New Orleans Jazz: Part 2 is less adventurous than its predecessor, but there’s no doubting the ease and authenticity the group brings to “St. James Infirmary,” “Tiger Rag,” Sidney Bechet’s mournful “Petite Fleur” and that celebratory Mardi Gras favorite, “Second Line.”
Moving especially far from the expected, Part 2 also contains a trad-jazz rendition of pop singing group the Turtles’ No. 1 hit from 1967, “Happy Together.”
Following tradition, Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown and his trumpet state the song’s melody faithfully before White and the band take the tune places the Turtles likely never expected it to go.