Red Blue Pills
Interscope Records · November 3, 2017
Maroon 5 deliver shallow pop music but win over with undeniably impeccable hooks that are effortlessly cool.
Arguably, Maroon 5 has been a true pop band since the release of Overexposed in 2012. It’s obvious that the band have become pros at creating Top 40 hits. They have a way of creating these hooks that you somehow continue to hear everywhere you go. I don’t think there’s a single person that can’t at least hum the tune to “Payphone” or “Moves Like Jagger.” Although not every song on Red Pill Blues is that big of a hit, there are a few contenders. The first track on the album, “Best 4 U,” shows their masterful hooks. The buildup to the chorus where Levine sings ‘I just want the best for you / but I’m just not the best for you’ with single syllable words that match a slower drum beat is so simple that it becomes insanely catchy. This use of punching single syllable words in the hook continues on “Girls Like You.” It’s easy to sing along to and sounds like it was manufactured for radio play.
The endless Top 40 collaborators on Red Pill Blues adds to the album’s hit making possibility. The SZA featured track, “What Lovers Do” teeters on the line of reggae and EDM. It’s an unexpected mix, but works perfectly, with two contrasting voices like those of Levine and SZA. Although, the feature from Julia Michaels is sadly not as successful and slightly disappointing. The possibilities for a duet between Levine and Michaels are limitless considering they both have insane vocal range. Their falsettos in “Help Me Out” match up perfectly, but build up to a flat chorus that has no catchy rhythm, ultimately leaving the song forgettable. The endless list of frat-boy-ready rappers featured on this album make up almost the rest of the collaborations. Future’s verse on “Cold” confirms the songs nonchalant, cool vibe. Surprisingly, the most impressive feature on the album comes from lesser known LunchMoney Lewis on “Who I Am.” The rap verse sounds seamless and purposeful instead of sounding like two separate songs like Kendrick Lamar’s feature on the Taylor Swift track “Bad Blood.”
Possibly the most interesting moments on Red Pill Blues come when the band focuses less on making a Top 40 hit. The electronic ballad “Denim Jacket,” which is unfortunately left as a bonus track, is reminiscent of Maroon 5’s debut album with sentimental lyrics and Levine’s signature falsetto. The closing to the album, appropriately titled “Closure,” goes on for over eleven minutes with a seven-minute jam sesh. It’s a bold move but with Maroon 5’s history of hits they can safely step out of the box sometimes.
It’s safe to say Maroon 5 have abandoned trying to stay in one genre. Through their genre bending career, Red Pill Blues turns out to be Maroon 5’s most ambiguous album to date. Although a few songs on the LP only deserve one listen and are sadly forgettable, the hits shine through and promise to be heard on the radio in the near future.
“Best 4 U”
“What Lovers Do”
Listen to Red Pill Blues here: