Maroon 5, "Hands All Over" (A&M/Octone)
Maroon 5's "Hands All Over" offers the Los Angeles-based band's signature funk treatment, but really this is lead singer Adam Levine's show. Thus, the band's success lives and dies with his delivery.
That delivery remains technically sound, though as a whole, the band underwhelms here.
There's just a little too much sheen, too much formula and too few surprises as Levine and the gang strut through a dozen tracks. Blue-eyed soul is bland when there is no spark or fiery engagement from the practitioners.
You could blame the sheen on hit-machine producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange, but the lack of ingenuity rests on the shoulders of the quintet in question.
On "I Can't Lie," Levine sings of a lost love still stuck inside his mind. The girl is gone and he longs to feel her heartbeat again. But it's a color-by-numbers melody without the gritty little extras that might have the song unique.
It's not that the musicians in Maroon 5 aren't capable of shining through Levine's front and center presence. The band just doesn't craft its music for that to happen. The songs are designed to be remembered for what Levine does, and no one else.
This approach is what cripples them on tracks like "Misery." It has a great, catchy melody, but Levine fills every crack and crevice of it with his voice, even when it would have been an opportune time for a memorable instrumental.
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: "Give A Little More" almost strays into disco territory with it's body-moving beat. This song would not have been terribly out of place in 1979. It's fun and funky, which is the prime directive of Maroon 5.