Carrie & Lowell
Is there anybody out there who hearts Maroon 5 with a crazed, red-raw, insatiable passion?
It seems unlikely, somehow. Seemingly possessed of no unique selling points whatsoever, the California band has built a stellar career (20 million album sales, and rising) on being resolutely unobjectionable; pleasantly unremarkable. They have banally grinned their way to US stadium-filling status: they have moved like blaggers.
With a nascent film career and a role as a judge on the US series of The Voice, 'sexiest man alive' singer Adam Levine could by now quite easily give up the day job, but instead has fronted this fifth album of perky electro-pop and brisk soft rock. Surprises, it is safe to say, are notable by their absence.
Thus the opening track, and single, Maps, could be the Police in their white reggae phase. The band have wisely recruited pop's premier turd-polishers in Ryan Tedder, Shellback and Rodney Jerkins to ensure the glossy production sheen is flawless, but no studio sleight-of-hand can salvage the tinny white funk of Animals.
It Was Always You has a modicum of pop thrills, but this is because it is essentially a rewrite of Crazy by Seal. Levine's shrill falsetto on the Prince-funk of Sugar flirts with sensuality, but Leaving California appears to have been cynically crafted for a teary sequence at the end of an episode of a US teen soap (where it will doubtless soon appear).
Unkiss Me is a ballad that 5 Seconds of Summer might reject as overly mawkish and manipulative. Gwen Stefani is in fine voice on the shoulder-heaving, tremulous duet My Heart Is Open, yet the song is so saccharine that you suspect Mariah Carey would have been a more apposite co-vocalist.
There is no ultra-catchy, game-changing Moves Like Jagger this time around. It's a place-holding, ticking-over Maroon 5 album, but they need have no fear: in America, at least, it will sell by the truckload.