A long time ago, a band emerged from sunny Los Angeles, California with one of the best pop debut records in recent memory. That record was called "Songs About Jane" and it featured a plethora of radio hits that were both instanly memorable and also instantly replayable.
That band's name is Maroon 5, and "Songs About Jane" skyrocketed them and their charismatic leader Adam Levine to instant stardom. Their music, however, seemed to travel in the exact opposite direction of their fame, and every attempt to follow "Songs About Jane" has ended with less than superb results.
Then came "Overexposed," a prime example of what happens when a band completely loses it's way and gets hijacked by it's ego-minded leader, resulting in one of the most unenjoyable pop records of the 2010's. Levine became obsessed with using auto-tuners, which in turn ruined his previously fantastic vocal performances (Levine had one of the most unique and powerful voices in contemporary music and chose to intentionally ruin it) and the group became synth heavy, clinging onto new trends desperately, even going so far as to incorporate Wiz Khalifa on a song.
And that brings us to "Maps" the latest single from the band and probably the final nail in the coffin for anyone who had any hope that they would return to form and finally deliver an album worth of their first.
First and foremost, Levine's voice is once again processed, but this time it sounds like it was compressed wrong when recording. It sounds ok once it's multi-tracked in the pre-chorus, but the verses have a bizarre tinny sound to them.
The verses are relatively minimalist in sound with just a guitar part and drum, and yet they are completely blown out by the chorus, which follows the painful trend of trying to be EDM but not quite committing, thus leading to something that sounds over-produced and yet isn't as danceable as it should be.
Then there's the end of the song, which cuts off abrubtly like someone pushed the "stop recording" button too early in the studio and no one bothered to fix it later. It's a small pet peeve granted, but with everything else wrong with the song it's definitely worth mentioning.
Maroon 5 are no longer the band they once were, and that is a saddening fact. "Maps" shows how far they've steered in the wrong direction, and there is almost nothing they can do to turn back on course.
At least the world will always have "Songs About Jane."
Rating: 3 out of 10