There are no prizes for guessing how many albums Maroon 5 are up to, but this release follows 2012's 'Overexposed'; an album that saw a renaissance in the band's career after some assistance from Christina Aguilera and a certain Rolling Stone. The quintet will support this release with an extensive North American tour in the new year, before crossing the Atlantic for dates that include a trio of shows in the UK.
It's easy to forget that when Maroon 5 first came to prominence around a decade ago they were originally pushed in the alternative rock scene, not the type of slick act who unleashed the ubiquitous 'Moves Like Jagger'. When they followed it up with the nearly-as-catchy 'Payphone', it seemed like they had truly found their niche, which is what makes 'V' a baffling listen. In isolation, the majority of tracks are ok, but they fail to make a lasting impression - the absence of even one infectious, attention-grabbing hook is astounding. Lead single 'Maps' is a case in point, it features a dance floor anthem chorus that will invariably get a crowd moving, but you'd be hard pressed to find the person who asked the club DJ to play it. This applies to the majority of tracks - take your pick from 'Animals', 'Sugar' and 'In Your Pocket' for examples - that gives the record difficulty in breaking beyond being full of 'filler' material.
The rare occasions where 'V' does raise its game - and it must be said in marginal measure - is when the band slows things down. Remembering that they are capable of the excellent 'She Will Be Loved' actually places context that 'Unkiss Me' and bonus track 'Lost Stars' aren't brilliant, but they still stand out here. The former is an aching break up ballad that remains on the right side of the line to being overblown and will no doubt have live audiences swaying emotionally, while the latter is a pleasant acoustic platform that features a surprisingly wistful vocal turn from Adam Levine. Ultimately, this is a disappointing release (though certainly not dreadful) and if the previous album was the band's return to the spotlight, this could see that bulb needing to be replaced.
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