After the lukewarm response by both critics and audiences to 2010’s Hands All Over, a stripped down, soulful album and a true collaborative effort on the band’s part, Maroon 5 bolt in the opposite direction with their latest, Overexposed. The title initially appears to be a self aware, cheeky commentary on the current state of affairs that is lead singer’s Adam Levine’s life. Upon further review however, it could very well be a clairvoyant vision of things to come for the Maroon 5 front man.
Whether it was intentional or not, Overexposed is Adam Levine’s coming out party. This is his solo debut with a backing band called Maroon 5. His role on TV’s The Voice and his numerous appearances on other artist’s songs (Kanye West, Natasha Bedingfield, Gym Class Heroes) have widened the bright spotlight on Levine. All he needed was a triumphant unveiling to the world as a shining star that could hold his own on both TV and the radio; Overexposed accomplishes just that. For better or worse, it cements Maroon 5’s place in the pop pantheon where current stalwarts such as Rihanna, Usher, and Lady Gaga reside.
This album is grandiose, ambitious, and looks to recruit a small country’s worth of fans to swell the ranks of the Maroon 5 faithful with bombast and anthemic hooks. Songs such as “Lucky Strike” and “Doin’ Dirt” are inhabited by a dance pop fever. They appear destined to be remixed into true club thumpers, tailor made, in fact, for such an ubiquitous fate. There is also a surprising lack of ballads, a stark contrast to their previous records. Overexposed is more concerned with following the blueprint of how to make a successful, modern pop album.
It would be difficult for any artist to sustain this sort of rumbling energy throughout an entire album and indeed some of the songs on the latter half of Overexposed falter, (for example the bonus track, a misguided, rockabilly take on Prince’s hit song “Kiss”) but for the most part, it overcomes these missteps. This may not be their best album, critically, but it very well could be their most successful album to date.