Sunday, September 26, 2010

Album Review: Maroon 5 - Hands All Over (4.5/5)

It Won't Be Soon Before Long delivered the upbeat breezy pop/rock--more or less shaping Maroon 5's new confident sound following the more laid back rock of their successful debut Songs About Jane--which was in fact the better album but wasn't as bold as its follow-up. Their fifth effort Hands All Over ties in the two, learning from their imperfections and delivering a winning mix of both confident and solid bowl of fun upbeat funk, pop, rock and even a bit of country this time around. It's their most well-rounded album yet.

Opening is lead single "Misery" ringing with the classic Maroon 5 upbeat pop/rock production re-calling the same jaunty overtones as "This Love" or "If I Never Your Face Again," chugging with quirky guitars, keyboards and drums with the classic dark lyrical undertones. "Give a Little More" cranks tempo, pushing a little bit more melody and quirk through the dizzying eclectic mash of guitars, keyboards and rapid drums. Hook-heavy "Stutter," chugs with electronic guitars, driven by Adam Levine's anthemic vocals; punching drums and prominent guitars for the turn up in the chorus. It sounds like it'll probably be a third single, if they don't decide to go with a ballad.

Fourth track "Don't Know Nothing," is another driven by drums, keyboards and guitars--the production isn't as sharp as the three previous tracks. It's not nearly as exciting, I do like the change in key in bridge though. Better is the more restraint mid-tempo "Never Gonna Leave This Bed," the albums first ballad--pacing with drums and keys with cooling guitar work firmly placed beneath the production in the verses, a firm build up to its blistering rock-studded chorus. The first few seconds "I Can't Lie," sounds like a '90s throwback with choir-like harmonising over the top of tepid bass lines being mimicked by prancing piano keys--it's a very warm tuneful number effectively enhanced by Levine's falsetto. I love the Caribbean-influenced bopping of percussion, jaunty keyboards and drums in the midsection.

The confident title track "Hands All Over," begins rather dark, shadowed by electronic undertones then the sudden bursts of electronic guitars startles before the rock-studded production. There's a lot of electronic guitars solo's, between the chorus and verses, verses and bridges and so forth. Some points the guitars just bleed through the verses. I like this a lot--it sounds like their most successful attempt at rock. "How" attempts some old fashioned also Snow Patrol inspired soft rock with shadowing chords and a cool melody hung production for the chorus, also backed with bursts of blistering guitars.

A quick drum roll begins "Get Back in My Life," followed by hum of "oohs" over a rich pop/rock production. It's quite nice. "Just a Feeling" is the albums first gentle ballad; beginning with some guitar feedback then a heart warming piano arrangement--it also has one of the best hooks on the album, very melody-driven. I'm not too in love with the chorus though. Another heavy melody driven number; "Runaway," is dark in its verses, driven by riveting percussion but there's nice turn up in the chorus.

Towards the end of the album there's a tingling collaboration with American country trio Lady Antebellum on "Out of Goodbyes," layered with smooth vocals, melodies and a softening modest blend of percussion and atmospheric strings sheeted by another layer of "ooh-ing" harmonies. Hillary Scott sounds splendid.

Kicking back into gear, "Last Chance" struts with fronted drums, guitars and rugged keyboards a punchy chorus. The album comes to a close with the dark grand rock of "No Curtain Call," pulsing with haunting progressive drums and electronic guitars twiddling behind the gothic production. It's kind of a bitter end to the album, couldn't be anymore different to the optimistic balladry of "Losing My Mind" that closed Won't Be Soon.

Maroon 5 delivered the confident well-rounded body of work, I always knew they would. I would have liked more melody-driven ballads like the last album had but there's a lot I like here--there's 1 or 2 duds but nothing major, they've delivered another winner--the best in their discography so far.

Best: Misery, Give a Little More, Out of Goodbyes, I Can't Lie, Hands All Over, Just a Feeling, How

1 comment:

rcLoy said...

I have always been a big fan of M5 ever since Songs About Jane. I haven't got the mood to listen to Hands All Over yet since I'm still obsess about the other group that I fancy now, you know, Graffiti 6. After reading this, I think I need to catch up fast.