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Music Reviews

MPAA Rating
Genre
Pop, Rock
Performance
Debuted at No. 1.
Record Label
Interscope
RELEASED
September 2, 2014
Reviewer
Adam R. Holz
Maroon 5

Maroon 5

V

If you look up in the sky, perhaps you'll spot a flying pig.

What!? Have Roger Waters and David Gilmour finally reunited to make a real Pink Floyd record? Or maybe ABBA is back for a farewell tour? Good guesses, but no, it's Adam Levine getting married that has triggered this skyward spectacle, tying the knot with Namibian supermodel Behati Prinsloo (of Victoria's Secret fame) on July 19, 2014.

Of course, I jest—a little bit. Pigs aren't really flying. You knew that … right? Still, there are plenty of folks who might see Maroon 5's playboy frontman actually settling down as a sign of the apocalypse.

I personally wish the happy couple nothing but blessing in their union. But the question at hand here, of course, is how much Levine's newfound matrimonial mindset has trickled down into the lyrics on the 11 songs from his band's fifth studio album, V.

Let me answer this way: If you didn't already know Adam had gotten himself hitched, another high-gloss set of Maroon 5 electro-pop earworms about love, sex, breakups, sex, reconciliations, oh, and sex might not make that fact immediately obvious.

Pro-Social Content

Maybe he strays a bit over the creep line at times, but at least a cheater on "Maps" wants to make things right again and win back the woman who left him ("I like to think that we had it all/We drew a map to a better place/But on that road I took a fall/Oh, baby, why did you run away?/ ... I'm following the map that leads to you"). "My Heart Is Open," meanwhile, finds Levine singing with Gwen Stefani about being willing to take a chance on love: "Don't be afraid to give your heart to me/And if you do/I know that I won't let you down."

"Unkiss Me" asks a woman to respect a man enough to tell the hard truth about their failing relationship. "New Love" has Levine confessing, "All this time I've been living it up/And every night I'd be falling in love," then insisting, "But I'm finally seeing the light/Falling in love with you every night." He goes on to ask, "If I ever let you down/Forgive me, forgive me now (which, admittedly, could be heard as either an earnest plea or a manipulative one, given the fact that he later says, "I know I lie").

"It Was Always You" sports a decidedly '80s vibe while telling a Say Anything-ish story about a clueless guy realizing he's falling for a longtime friend ("It was always you/Can't believe I could not see it all this time, all this time"). But while this track may have made me wonder for a moment if Levine was singing about his new bride ...

Objectionable Content

"Animals" includes predatorily suggestive coupling ("Baby, I'm preying on you tonight/Hunt you down, eat you alive"). That's followed by repeated and quite direct references to how sex feels ("I get so high when I'm inside you"). In similar territory, "Sugar" is the word the band uses to describe coitus on the song bearing that title: "Sugar/Yes, please/Won't you come and put it down on me/ … I just want to be deep in your love/ … Need a little sweetness in my life."

On "In Your Pocket," a man confronts his partner, who he knows is having an affair with someone else. He repeatedly tells her, "Show me that phone in your pocket, girl," suggesting it contains evidence of her straying ways. He then says, "Show me yours, I'll show you mine." "New Love" compares a woman's visual appeal to a drug ("I'm a slave to the way that you move/ … You're the only drug I wanna do"). "Coming Back for You" tells a long-distance lover, "I'll be back for you/So you better wait up/Keeping the bed warm for me/All night, puttin' your whisper on me."

On "My Heart Is Open," Stefani sings, "It won't take me long to find another lover, but I want you." "Feelings" involves a guy plying an already-attached woman with strong drink ("You and me and all that wine"), which leads to outright emotional blackmailing ("Does he know your nasty side?") and the implication that the pair is already having a torrid affair ("I know he doesn't satisfy you like I do/ … You and me, let's go all night/Going so high, we f--- the sky"). He also tells her, "If you want, take me home and let me use you."

Four tracks include a total of two partially obscured s-words and three similarly submerged f-words.

Summary Advisory

As was the case on 2012's Overexposed, Maroon 5 once again weaves together musical elements from the '70s (funk, disco), '80s (New Wave synth, big nods to The Police and Michael Jackson) and contemporary trends (EDM). The result is an album that's perfectly polished for pop radio and the iTunes/Pandora/Spotify set.

You'd expect nothing less from Adam Levine and his cohorts, of course. Which leaves me wishing those infectious songs' lyrics were perfectly polished as well.

Levine often waxes romantic in endearing ways, like a big ol' puppy who's just in love with being in love. But in almost all of those cases, puppy dog eyes are but a brief, self-serving way station en route to much steamier happenings in bed. That content (plus a handful of partially muted swear words) is all the more problematic because there aren't any absolutely clear lyrical nods to marriage. A couple of songs do hint that Levine really is trying to settle down. And then, like so much rice at a reception, the rest of them toss around lots of the singer's traditionally problematic lover-in, lover-out approach to pursuing personal gratification—otherwise known as happiness.

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