Pop golden boys Maroon 5 are back with Hands All Over, the group’s latest studio effort. The album is Maroon 5’s return to the stripped-down, organic sound behind its breakout record and a departure from the sleek dance-pop production of 2007’s It Won’t Be Soon Before Long.
The 12-track LP features polished rock-inspired numbers and hints of country-pop (most noticeably on the Lady Antebellum-assisted track, “Out of Goodbyes”). What the album lacks, though, is the addictiveness of their previous albums, which were loaded with radio-ready hits and the gritty lyricism of heartbreak and sexcapades interpreted by frontman Adam Levine.
Hands All Over still has a few gems among its mostly forgettable tracks.
The first single, “Misery,” recalls the love-gone-awry theme behind the group’s megahit, “This Love,” with bright, chipper pop production overtones. Levine’s insatiable falsetto captures his plea to end the power love has over him on this standout track of buoyant guitars and upbeat piano.
The only track that delivers classic Maroon 5 raunchiness is the seductive “Give a Little More,” in which Levine’s melt-worthy croon is out in full force during the song’s sex-appeal-packed chorus. His come-ons are stronger and more alluring than ever as he pines, “you were wrong for turning me on,” making this funk-infused ditty one of the album’s irresistible cuts.
Levine’s vocals soar on the melodic “Stutter,” which finds the front man singing of an impossible love he wants but can’t have. The highlight track finds Maroon 5 taming its usually suggestive lyrics with simple yet catchy lines detailing a puppy dog crush. The dreamy middle section seals the deal for this effervescent tune, with Levine’s echoed falsetto backed by harpsichord-like strings.
Maroon 5 goes for a heavy rock number on the title track, similar to a modern “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” but it falls flat. Even with the bold guitar production behind the track, Levine’s vocals prove too mellow to support the song’s rock and roll nature.
The album overall is a miss, especially for a group used to scoring a string of hits, because most of Hands All Over’s tracks are dull despite Levine’s undeniable voice and the glossy production. If Hands All Over really is Maroon 5’s most involved, hands-on project, I suggest they install a more laissez-faire policy when the band begins work on the next album.