Maroon 5 “Hands All Over”
Since its debut in 2002 with “Songs About Jane,” Maroon 5 has sold more than 10 million albums in the United States and nearly 15 million internationally. Maroon 5 has just released its newest studio album, “Hands All Over,” which is the band’s follow-up to their last album, “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long,” which was released back in 2008.
The album is an interesting mix of pop, funk, R&B and rock. The sound of the band has matured a great deal from its previous album, with lyrics that pop and often times have double meanings. With Adam Levine’s lead vocals easily sliding between his trademark falsetto and high-tenor singing style, he croons along, giving depth and twists to what would be standard pop fare for any other singer.
Each of the songs on this album is unique, offering melodies that will stick in your mind and draw you back to listen once again. For example, track seven, which gives its name to the album, has a distinct Def Leppard and country music twist. The ballad feels like something a patron would hear at the Wild Horse Saloon in Nashville while line-dancing. The style change is not at all unwelcome; it breaks up the album slightly with a more danceable tune and keeps the listener entertained and wanting more.
Several of the other songs have distinct homages to certain artists. Track five, titled “Never Gonna Leave This Bed,” has a main melody, which is essentially a musical salute to Coldplay. The next track, titled “I Can’t Lie” has a hybrid melody reminiscent of Jack Johnson with an R&B twist.
On the bonus edition, there is an extra studio track the band sung with Lady Antebellum, titled “Out of Goodbyes.” This song is slightly devious, as it crosses over into a duet with a distinct Jimmy Buffet undertone. These really show off the stylistic range of Maroon 5 and how versatile the band can be, and it lets Maroon 5 mix things up in order to seem fresh.
There are a sundry of these musical tributes throughout the album itself; some of it probably will escape the average listener. But every song is great for its own reasons and will probably end up being played repeatedly if you’re a fan of Maroon 5’s highly polished, pop-jazz style.
When you consider that Robert “Mutt” Lange produced the entire album, you can begin to understand how all these influences snuck into “Hands All Over.” His body of work includes several albums for bands and singers like AC/DC, Def Leppard, Shania Twain, Bryan Adams and The Backstreet Boys. Lange’s stylistic influences come close to overpowering what was great about Maroon 5′s style in “Songs About Jane,” which had a very raw feel to it, playing down on Levine’s voice and focusing more on the lyrics and musical quality. “Hands All Over” feels slightly artificial and is more reliant on synthesizer and Levine’s voice to carry the album forward.
The deluxe edition of ‘Hands All Over’ includes several acoustic songs, including versions of “Misery” and “Never Gonna Leave This Bed.” These are fun to listen to and give the listener an extra chance to appreciate Adam Levine’s lyrical and singing prowess.
The acoustic section in this album also contains a cover of Queen’s “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and a live recording of Maroon 5 singing Alicia Keyes’s “If I Ain’t Got You.”
The only downside to “Hands All Over” is that Lange’s stylistic preferences have overpowered the band. He has pushed it in a direction that relies more on synthesizer and gimmicky guitar runs that seem taken from Def Leppard and The Backstreet Boys. If you were to compare “Songs About Jane” to “Hands All Over,” you would almost think they were a different band.
Overall, the album is the best since “Songs About Jane.” The songs are solid and unique enough that fans and first-time listeners alike will love this album; it is highly enjoyable and easy on the ears.
“Hands All Over” gets a 4 out of 5.
Linkin Park’s “A Thousand Suns”
Linkin Park has been around since late 90s. Since the band first appeared on the music world’s radar, it has released four records, including this one, with 21 singles between them and at least 28 music videos.
Linkin Park’s new offering comes after its last album, “Minutes to Midnight,” which was tragically bland, politicized and blatantly catered to corporate interests. If you were to listen to early work of Linkin Park and compare it to this album, you would find that this band is completely different from what it was back in 2000 with “Hybrid Theory.”
While Linkin Park has always tried to be edgy and “out there,” but the album comes off as pretentious and hard to listen to. Gone are the rocking tracks that you could easily dance and sing with and were almost art in their execution. Every so often while listening to this album you may get an occasional glimmer of what the band was three albums ago. But ever since it started experimenting with different musical styles in “Minutes To Midnight,” it has gone downhill fast.
Two or three of the songs start out with blatantly political sound bites from media figures. The most notorious of which I could identify was J. Robert Oppenheimer giving his famous “I have become death destroyer of worlds” speech. This stylistic choice would have been fine if the band had done it only once. But it’s over-used and a waste of valuable album time when it eventually morphs whatever voice is speaking to sound like a Cylon out of Battlestar or a Dalek from Doctor Who.
Linkin Park has always had an industrial vibe to its music. But unfortunately, this album takes that industrial sound and layers it with an over-produced drab of auto-tune, bad rap and what sounds like sample tracks off a 1980s synthesizer. This gives it a sonic presence similar to what you would get if you were to cram a Rottweiler into an auto-tuned blender and tell it to sell five million units of the recorded sound until you have a single popular enough to overplay in the next Transformers movie.
Aside from the quality of the music itself, the tracks are short and not that memorable, making the album hard to really enjoy. It is almost insulting and a slap in the face to fans who have stayed with Linkin Park over the years and goes to prove that Linkin Park has little or no artistic integrity left. Instead of trying to recreate itself with every album and be edgy and new, this band would be better suited to sticking with a certain style and then slowly improving and refining it.
This album gets a 1.5 out of 5. It is almost impossible to listen too casually; the tracks are short, it’s overly political and very over-produced.
For what little musical quality there is, it is buried under layers of sound effects and auto-tune. Linkin Park was a good band once, but with the constant style changes, it comes off as angsty and directionless.