Overexposed (Deluxe Version)
As brash as it is, the title of Maroon 5’s fourth album is perfect for a band that sounds like it knows exactly what it’s out to achieve. After 2010’s Hands All Over met a relatively modest reception, the Californian pop-rock act reversed its trajectory with the help of two decisive shifts in strategy. One was Levine’s decision to try his luck as a TV-competition show judge on The Voice with persuasive results. The other was enlisting songwriters outside the band for the first time—in this case, benny blanco, Ammar Malik, and Shellback for 2011's “Moves Like Jagger.” The song demonstrated the tactic’s wisdom by becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time. Like that smash hit, the songs on Overexposed demonstrates the band's drive to have their music blasting out of car stereos, beach clubs and spin studios all over the planet. To accomplish this task, the band adds the likes of Ryan Tedder and Robopop to its roster of top-flight hitmakers. Of course, the most formidable ringer is Max Martin; besides serving as the album’s executive producer, Sweden’s king of pop adds high polish and maximum propulsion to contributions such as “One More Night” and “Daylight.” Although Rihanna’s not among the album’s many special guests, Levine cites her as another big influence on the songs here, a fact made clear by the anthemic fusion of electro-pop and sleek, R&B-infused dance music on “Payphone” and “Love Somebody,” which became two of the four Top 10 singles on Overexposed. While the band sounds fully engaged with all the new elements that its collaborators bring to the table, there’s still room for the flirty soul pop and strutting funk rock that defined Maroon 5’s sound in the decade before “Moves Like Jagger.” One of four co-writes by lead guitarist James Valentine, “Ladykiller” is a throwback to summer-ready early favorites like “Sunday Morning,” and “Tickets” gives Levine a further opportunity to get his Prince on. Likewise, with its loping rhythm and Levine’s warm, soulful vocals, “Beautiful Goodbye” proves Maroon 5 can sometimes assume an easygoing pace during its quest to be everywhere all at once.