Review Summary: I know the song I'm singing is not your favorite kind.
Let's go against the grain for a moment and conduct a little musical analysis. The lyrics to the first verse of "The Man Who Never Lied" go something like this: "In the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, screaming at each other, screaming at each other like
: oh, oh, ohhhh
." Now, given this immediate lyrical content, "The Man Who Never Lied" is clearly meant to paint a picture of a broken relationship, but here's the thing - if those oh-oh-oh's are meant to represent Adam Levine and his seemingly tumultuous relationship with this woman... then why are they sung so god damn softly? With falsetto
- one of the softest singing techniques on the scene - at the end of the last 'oh'? How is that 'screaming'? How does Adam Levine's bland, clean, stilted delivery of those oh-oh-oh's and the utter lack of anything
happening in the background supposed to feel "like a tragedy, like a dark comedy"? What's "tragic" about a squeaky-clean pop song? Do these lyrics even mean anything at all? Or are they nothing more than borderline filler to give Adam Levine a reason to make some noises with his mouth?
This singular musical moment - doubtlessly a moment that nobody in the studio really thought about, not with this level of deep analysis, anyway - perfectly summarizes the problems with Maroon 5 as a band these days. Whatever they're singing about is given no weight whatsoever, utterly castrated and neutralized by paper-thin songwriting, run-of-the-mill production, a downright bored
performance by Adam Levine, and the alarmingly likely feeling that nobody involved with Overexposed
actually gave that much of a damn about any of it. Were Maroon 5 excited and passionate about their new 'sound' on Overexposed
? If so, it doesn't show in the slightest - Overexposed
sounds like a band of lobotomites performing hip and cool muzak made for da young'ins and teenyboppers of 2012
, with formulaic, factory-made, and conveniently trailer-and-commercial-friendly "songs".
That dull, lobotomized sound seeps it way into every single track on this record, ruining the potentially-promising musical ideas in the process and turning them into mindless, poppy mush. "Payphone" is a brainless toe-tapper with 'hip hop beats and piano hooks' that might as well have come out of a "baby's first music loops" pack, and that's not even getting into the utterly brain-dead and tone-deaf feature by Wiz Khalifa, a choice that adds nothing to the otherwise hokey, inspirational, and frankly f*ckin white
sound of the song. The so-called "Sly Stone-meets-Eurythmics synth hook" of "Love Somebody" is mawkishly milquetoast and insincere, its empty verses and basic synth arpeggios sounding more like drug-addled mumbling than a legitimate 'hook'. Anything I could say about "Sad" has already been said by its title alone, "Wipe Your Eyes" is a messy, over-amplified burst of meaningless noise, "Wasted Years" is literally just a terrible version of "The Sun" from the immeasurably-superior Songs About Jane
- same key and everything - and "Fortune Teller" has the rawest, most shameless form of selling out on the entire record in the form of f*cking dubstep
with its lurching, wobbly bassline and robotic four-on-the-floor drum beat. Through the simple but damning act of chasing trends and riding their coattails, Overexposed
is already painfully dated whereas Songs About Jane
still sounds good almost twenty years later.
What the hell happened here? Hands All Over
was middling as hell, a significant dip in quality when compared to its thoroughly satisfying predecessors, but compared to *this*, Hands All Over
is a pop music masterpiece. Even the 'best' songs on the record are chintzy and disappointing, rife with untapped potential. The reggae influence on the otherwise dark and heavily drum machine-led "One More Night" could
have been an interesting experiment, but the syncopated and sluggish "groove" of its synth chords clashes hard with the punchy, processed drum machines - the song is carried solely by a surprisingly lively Adam Levine performance. The bright-faced, rhythmic "Daylight" has a solid chorus nerfed by a wall of homogeneous synths, keys, and a painfully-basic, 'inspirational' chord progression. The heavily Script
and Jason Mraz
-like "Beautiful Goodbye" has a moderately fun, shuffling and shimmering song buried somewhere
beneath the boring-ass production and lame refrain, and the glossy Europop of "Doin' Dirt" feels
like a decent, refreshing burst of cheesy energy, but I can't help but wonder if it only feels 'refreshing' and 'energetic' because everything else before it had been such hackneyed, robotic trite.
"Overexposed" was the perfect name for this album, albeit probably not for the same reasons that *Maroon 5* thought it was a good name. It perfectly describes exactly why
this record has such a unique level of suckage. Maroon 5 was becoming a household name, and both the band and the team of producers, agents, and executives behind them thought the best way to capitalize upon their success was actually not
to further refine the sound that made them successful, but instead turn the band into the Adam Levine Vanity Project, where everyone and everything is utterly washed out beneath a tidal wave of Adam Levine and a vast array of the most boring-ass pop music 'tropes' of the time: a bunch of empty space dominated by club-ready beats, inoffensive synths, and the chosen vocalist front and center, the vocalist being the only thing making these songs karaoke-worthy instead of informercial background noise. And, unfortunately, this worked so god damn well for Maroon 5 that several other pop-rock bands followed their tracks for years to come and were transformed into boring demo reels for their frontmen (names like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The F*cking Brendon Urie Disco come to mind). Overexposure effectively murdered Maroon 5. This is not a Maroon 5 record - this is a record made by The Corpses Formerly Known as Maroon 5.