Maroon 5 Goes for Broke on ‘Overexposed’

“Overexposed” can refer to several things when it comes to Maroon 5. For some, it might refer to lead singer Adam Levine’s now-constant media presence due to his participation on The Voice. Others may take it to refer to Levine’s frequent nudity. Still others may connect it to the radio presence of Levine and Maroon 5 over the past year in particular, on songs like “Moves Like Jagger” and “Stereo Hearts.”

In other words, it’s one hell of an appropriate album title.

Following the relative disappointment of Maroon 5’s last album, Hands All Over,Overexposed finds the band shifting into new musical territory. The shift really started with the aforementioned songs, which found the group collaborating with outside writers for the first time. The results were enough for the band to bring in a bevy of pop producers and songwriters for this project, including Max Martin, Ryan Tedder, and Benny Blanco.

The result is a not-so-subtle shift towards a continued desire for radio marketability. Take lead single “Payphone,” which finds the group pulling in Wiz Khalifa for a guest rap, or the radio-ready sounds of second single “One More Night.” There’s enough of a Maroon 5 essence to still consider them Maroon 5 songs (mainly Levine’s distinctive voice), but they’re not out of place in today’s increasingly dance-friendly radio lineup.

Even with the outside writers and pop producers, though, Overexposed manages to actually use the band in new and distinctive ways compared to the rest of the band’s discography. Several of the band members contributed to production on various songs, with a majority of those songs coming on the back half of the album. Levine takes co-writing credit on every song, and other band members also get writing credits on a number of songs. The band even includes an out-of-left-field take on Prince’s “Kiss” (included on the Deluxe Edition) that sounds more like Elvis than anything on Top 40.

Overexposed is not for everybody. Fans of the band’s earlier pop/rock leanings on earlier albums like Songs About Jane in particular will have plenty to dislike. It’s a blatant attempt to chase what’s popular at the moment; the band has even said as much in their promotion of the album. What helps Maroon 5 is that it largely works. Outside of Levine’s vocals, the band hasn’t exactly maintained a signature sound over its career. While Overexposed may be a bigger sonic jump than previous albums, it’s not completely unexpected. And yes, the album will likely continue the amount of exposure the band has had in recent months. There are worse things that a band could want.

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