Maroon 5
Songs About Jane


4.0
excellent

Review

by John weathered old reviewer Hanson STAFF
April 30th, 2006 | 104 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist


Maroon 5 has always been a paradox in my mind. On one hand, they’re impossibly catchy, very talented musicians for the genre they play in, and the lyrics are fairly good, while admittedly never profound. However, I mean Christ, they made that song “This Love", they are always on MTV, and that front man is just too goddamn pretty for his own good. I honestly doubt there has been any album that I’ve loved/hated more than this; at times I can’t stop playing it, while at others I erase it from my hard drive entirely out of anger. Where does this leave me today? With the distinct impression I overplayed some of the best pop music of recent years.

I suppose the first thing that should be addressed is singer Adam Levine and his rather ‘endearing’ voice. While there are at times cries of his vocals being too heavily produced, I find that they did a perfect job of capturing it. It’s high and annoying, similar to many similar male pop vocalists in the mainstream these days, but at times still holds a hint of edge and a sense of Levine being more than slightly jaded. It was more unique when Songs About Jane was first released, but it still stands out two years later. A more surprising aspect of the band, however, it how good the actual music is.

Now, granted, pop music normally isn’t about the band members. It’s about how much people like the singer, and then in turn how much they can “relate" with the lyrics. Maroon 5 is no exception to this rule; instead, in addition to that, they actually know how to create interesting compositions. James Valentine can provide some very nice and fluid guitar progressions, standouts including those off of Harder to Breath, Shiver, and Not Coming Home. While not being anything new, Valentine still knows how to lay down a nice compliment to Levine’s vocal styling, and at times can steal the show, most noticeably on Shiver. Mickey Madden is obviously no Les Claypool (or even Mike Dirnt…), but at times he can provide a steady, if unoriginal, bass line to keep the song a’ rolling. Drums for the album were provided by Ryan Dusick, and while he may act as a metronome for most of the album, he functions well as a cover up for the weaker parts of the rhythm section. Through With You does show him providing some interesting fills, and is also one of the few instances keyboardist Jesse Carmichael is really noticeable. While the lighter tracks may have some more of influence, its obvious that for most of the album he is merely an afterthought.

As mentioned briefly at the beginning, lyrically this album is not to be taken lightly. While not breaking any new ground in the songwriting department, much of this is cliché and sappy topics made more interesting due to Levine’s psuedo-dark writing style. Secret is the quintessential down and dirty sex ballad, as Levine simply states “And as you wipe of beads of sweat, slowly you say ‘I’m not there yet!’". The infamous This Love is the ode to women who, frankly, toy with guy’s emotions. While it’s all rather childish, you can’t help but sing along to “And I won’t say goodbye anymore". However, the third single She Will Be Loved features Levine at his best, being about a young girl (probably around 18, maybe even a beauty queen) who runs to him in her times of trouble. Escaping the realms of being relatively contrived by his honest “answers" to the young lady (“It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, it’s compromise that moves us along" may seem cliché, but works extremely well within the context of the song), it’s one of the more emotional, if not quite moving, singles of recent years.

Enough about all of that, though, there are obvious discussions of the songs to be had. Harder to Breathe was the first single off the album, and arguably its strongest. With extremely well placed “Whoah-oh’s" (a staple of pop, to be sure), and a funky guitar line from Valentine, the slight techno feel lends to the songs aesthetic quite well. The ever-popular pop/alt rock solo accompanying the song is also a welcome, if strange, surprise. Sunday Morning, the fourth single from the album, was actually quite a mystery to me. After releasing three strong songs, they released in my mind the weakest track on the album. While there isn’t anything specifically wrong with the album, it drags on for too long, and doesn’t do anything whatsoever to differentiate itself from the album, even the addition of horns didn’t do it for me. Levine’s voice proves to be the strong point once again, but this quickly turns into a skippable track.

However, that’s not to say the song following Sunday Morning is anything short of great. Secret (the previously mentioned “sex ballad") is one of the darker songs on the album, and the 45-second ambience intro helps add to the mood and atmosphere of the song. While relatively simple and low key, Levine’s voice and lyricism is the glue once again. While the song may feel biting and gloomy, the following song Through With You takes the same dark concepts, but adds a bouncy guitar line and key’s to make an effective juxtaposition. While it runs somewhat in the same vein as Sunday Morning in that it’s a tad bit indistinguishable, the far more interesting lyrical matter (about a rather forceful breakup) gives it a bit more than a slight edge.

All in all, however, this album is excellent. Yes, it may easily get on your nerves; unlike some albums, this is one of those where extreme overplaying can cause you to hate it. Radio play of This Love has ingrained a new “angry-vein" in my head that pops up whenever I even hear mention of it. However, very few mainstream pop albums in the past two, hell, five years have hit both this level of musicianship and songwriting ability. Maroon 5 takes concepts normally frowned upon by the “real" music community, and somehow makes them refreshing and interesting to listen to. Yes, if you hate pop music, you probably wont like Maroon 5, or this album. If you think songs about women and failed relationship are “so 30 years ago", you probably wont like Maroon 5. You know why you might like Maroon 5? Because you, like me, enjoy a high pitched, slightly effeminate singer like Adam Levine, appreciate some catchy and sometimes jaded music, and can understand that Tangled is in fact, not about pubic hair.

Reccomended Tracks:
Harder To Breathe
Shiver
She Will Be Loved
Secret




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Comments:Add a Comment 
tom79
April 30th 2006


3372 Comments


Great Review :thumb:
I really don't like this band though, but that is just based on the singles and videos.

Digging: Karate - Some Boots

TurnTheOtherWay
April 30th 2006


459 Comments


Nice review. I enjoyed Harder to Breathe, but not enough for me to want to get the album or anything. This Love was good... until the radio slaughtered it.

morrissey
Moderator
April 30th 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, you've certainly placed yourself among the elite.
This is a very good album from a very good band who should get their act together and record a proper followup.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2006


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

News is that the follow up should be out later this year. I'm rather excited.
And thanks for all the compliments, particularly that "elite" one, heh. And honestly, if you liked Harder to Harder to Breathe, a lot of this album will appeal to you strongly; it was the best indication of the overall sound of the album as a whole.
And I edited in reccomended tracks. I dunno why, I just like giving a general indication of what to check out.

metallicaman8
April 30th 2006


4677 Comments


Good review. But I simply can't stand this band. I guess their just not my cup o' tea

The Jungler
April 30th 2006


4827 Comments


News is that the follow up should be out later this year. I'm rather excited.

Snap, I hadn't heard anything about that.
Great job with the review, they've been a guilty pleasure of mine since I first heard that song Harder to Breathe on my mom's radio station (though I thought it was some girl R&B band at first)
Great review, Iluvatar
This Message Edited On 04.30.06

spoon_of_grimbo
April 30th 2006


2241 Comments


iv had a cursory listen of this album ages ago, and i remember thinking it wasnt bad. since then, i've heard al lthe singles and i love every one!!! which is kinda weird considering my usual tastes, but definitely the best pop band out there atm.

kno_kontrol
April 30th 2006


448 Comments


great job on the review, I cannot tolerate Maroon 5 though.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2006


15737 Comments


It's about time they did a followup. This album was nominated for a grammy this year. IT CAME OUT IN 2002!!!!

Good review.

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2006


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I do believe they were nominated for their live album, for the track "Shiver." Not the Shiver from this one.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2006


15737 Comments


I dont know about that, I'll definitely look this one up, but I'm pretty sure one of the singles got nominated for song of the year.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2006


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[quote=Wiki "Maroon 5"]In the fall of 2005 they released a live record called "Live, Friday the 13th" which was recorded on May 13, 2005 in Santa Barbara, California and has earned them another Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group in 2006.[/quote]
This is an instance where I pretty much think wiki is right, but that could just be me. I should review that, it wasn't a bad live album...even though its essentially the same as this...

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2006


15737 Comments


Touche. Either way, they've been real good at releasing one single a year to lead up to their next album.

The Jungler
April 30th 2006


4827 Comments


In 05 they got an award for best new artist, which is quite strange.
[quote=review]you, like me, enjoy a high pitched, slightly effeminate singer like Adam Levine, appreciate some catchy and sometimes jaded music[/quote]
Take out the name Adam Levine and you have a certin someone that you seem to not like so much....

Your beautiful...
This Message Edited On 04.30.06

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2006


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

James blunt is extremely high pitched, uber effeminate, and makes tripe music where only one song is halfway catchy to me, Wisemen. Believe me, I had him in mind during the review as a comparison to bad pop these days, I just decided I didn't want any indication these guys are remotely like him.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2006


15737 Comments


The vocals are a tad similar... I didn't notice that at first... Gasp!

ThaFleastyler
April 30th 2006


36 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Adam Levine's whiny voice aside, this album was one of my favourites for a long long time. Until I listened to it so much it made me sick. Now I don't really listen to it at all, but that doesn't change my opinion of it: fantastic music (while a little lacking in the rhythm section).
Best tracks for my money: Harder to Breathe, Shiver, Not Coming Home. Nice review, Illuvatar. This one of the best of yours that I have read
... and I totally agree ... Wiki is God!!!This Message Edited On 04.30.06

XxcheetoxX
April 30th 2006


78 Comments


Maroon 5 are really good. Sunday Morning and This Love are great songs.

Good review man.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2006


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You really like This Love? Meh, it was probably the massive overplay here in the states that caused me to dislike it. She Will Be Loved supposedly got as much, but I didn't notice it nearly as much.
And no one will ever convince me of sunday Morning being a good song. Ugh.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
May 2nd 2006


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I totally agree with the whole love/hate thing. For an pop album, measuing it up aginst the scenes current standards, I think this is a great CD. That was a solid review as well.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor



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