What’s this? A Maroon 5 album that’s actually, well, likeable?
OK maybe that’s going too far, but Adam Levine and his band of interchangeable men have made a good crack at it on their new album Red Pill Blues. It’s as if they’ve taken the time to study the best trends of pop and polish them to decent order while, of course, remaining completely sanitised.
It starts off in low-key form with Best 4 U, which exchanges the sleaziness of their last record with something that’s mature in both tone and production. It’s a vibe reiterated with full force on the breathtakingly gorgeous Lips On You, a delicate beauty that genuinely takes us by surprise every time we hear it. It’s sensual without being creepy, and by far a highlight of their career.
Weirdly where Maroon 5 fall is when they bring in their way-cooler collaborators. SZA, Julia Michaels, and Kendrick Lamar come and go without providing anything remotely useful for the record, and Maroon 5 actually seem better off without them. Which is something we’d never thought we’d say.
While nothing matches the early highs, this lot certainly seem like a band willing to learn from their mistakes and actually put some effort into improving. Who I Am has a likeable porchside energy, while Whiskey is perfectly serviceable pop. There are duds aplenty too, but the take-home is ultimately positive – this is the nicest Maroon 5 album in quite some time, and we’re certainly not mad at them for sticking at it.