Maroon 5 – It Won’t Be Soon Before Long
Record Label: A&M Octone
Release Date: May 22 2007
Oh, Maroon 5, how the mighty have fallen. You once were a great pop-rock/funk band that were something special, especially for being on the radio. Now, however, you’re a rather run of the mill pop “band.” I can’t even call you a band anymore, because I don’t even hear any instruments half the time. I will admit, though, that 2012’s Overexposed wasn’t a terrible record, but it wasn’t a good record, either. Only a handful of songs were very solid, but the rest were just generic pop fodder. Enter sophomore album It Won’t Be Soon Before Long. I saw this record recently, and decided to pick it up, because I’ve always wanted to get into their back catalog. I was just hoping it wouldn’t be as cliché and generic as Overexposed was (which was a very ironic title), and it wasn’t, actually. A few songs didn’t do much for me, as most records do, but overall, it was a very interesting record. That’s why I want to know what happened. They used to be a force to be reckoned with, now they’re just another pop band that everyone hates because they’re popular. And partially because they’re not really that good anymore. There’s much worse out there, but they’re definitely not the greatest band at all. Even their older material isn’t perfect, but it has what Overexposed doesn’t – heart. It’s got a sense of sincerity, and a sense of organicness that their last couple records really don’t. To put it simply, this record is a lot better, but to only say that would be an insult to Overexposed, because it’s really not a “bad” record. If anything, it’s disappointing. I had an interesting perspective of listening to that record first, and ultimately, I liked it, but I wasn’t loving it, either. For what it was, which was generic pop music, it did the job. If you’re into simplistic pop music, yeah, this will be something right up your alley. It’s definitely got that wide appeal, but that’s where their older material differs a bit. Not that it’s weird or unorthodox, but because it’s actually unique. As I mentioned, they used to be a rather interesting pop-rock meets funk and soul band, instead of having this reputation as a generic pop group. They were definitely rock based at one point in time, and ultimately, while I do enjoy pop music, this record does hold up more. The songs are a lot better crafted, the lyrics are a bit better (in most places), and most importantly, frontman Adam Levine doesn’t sound like he’s on helium the whole time. Yeah, the guy can sing really high notes, but when they’re autotuned to the point of I don’t know what’s real or not, it gets ridiculous. Adam Levine is a pretty good singer. I don’t love his voice or anything, but I enjoy hearing it. It’s unique, at least when you can actually hear it, which is the case on It Won’t Be Soon Before Long.
If you think that this record is devoid of any strong and infectious pop hooks, you’d be dead wrong, because it does have a lot of tracks with very strong hooks and very catchy ones, at that. Lead single, “Makes Me Wonder,” is one of these songs. I actually vaguely remember this song, because it was really familiar with me when I was listening to it. I wasn’t into pop music or a lot of music at all when this record came out in 2007, but I most likely heard it somewhere. Either way, aside from being the lead single, it’s also one of the strongest tracks on the record. And in fact, the first half of the record is absolutely fantastic. Every song is very catchy, and enjoyable, but still with some substance. Granted, there are a few songs that really don’t do anything for me, but those came a bit later on. Opening track “If I Never See Your Face Again” is one of those songs that Levine is known for, not because of the song itself, but because of the subject matter in the lyrics. The song is basically about Levine having a one night stand with someone, and he says that despite it being so good, he wouldn’t mind if never saw their face again, because it wasn’t serious. And that’s kind of how opening track on Overexposed, “One More Night,” goes, because it’s basically about Levine saying how awful it is that he’s got a “friend with benefits,” essentially. That song is rather confusing, because he’s sad about it, yet always keeps going back. This song is kind of the same way, because I don’t know if it’s meant to be sad, or happy. Thankfully, second track “Makes Me Wonder,” which I already mentioned, is meant to be sad and bitter. The next couple tracks, “Little of Your Time,” and “Wake Up Call” are both really catchy and really enjoyable, despite their lyrics being rather mediocre. It’s not the lyrics themselves are bad, it’s just the subject matters of each of them are kind of boring.
When fifth track “Won’t Go Home Without You” rolls around, this is when we, the listeners, see a different side of the band. See, in Overexposed, there weren’t too many “ballads” or slow songs. There were just a couple, and they were really that good. On this record, on the other hand, there are a lot. Not too much, where it takes the record by storm, but enough to the point where it balances out the sexually aggressive songs. If there is one problem with these ballads, it’s not that they’re awful songs. But it’s that they do tend to get repetitive after awhile, just like their sexually charged songs. Basically, Maroon 5’s lyrics kinda suck after awhile. It’s not that they’re truly terrible, but Levine doesn’t know how to write about anything else. Hearing about how he’s having a one night stand, or how much he misses/hates his ex gets boring after awhile. Some of these songs are relatable, just in general, but they do get a bit boring. The positive thing, though, is that the music itself really holds up. Guitarist James Valentine keeps a very funky and groovy vibe running through the record, and it’s great. There’s a nice pop-rock sound, but still with an edge to it, so to speak. The funkiness and grooviness is what makes this record/band a bit more unique, but they’ve kind of lost that sound throughout the last couple years, which is why it makes Overexposed more so disappointing. Obviously, this record isn’t perfect, but this record is definitely the band at their best. They may be making music that’s much more accessible, but what was wrong with this? This is a very catchy and fun record, but with a bit of substance to it. Regardless, people can ask to return to the past all the time, but it won’t happen. While I don’t really enjoy the direction they’re going in now, this is still great. And I, along with everyone else, can look back at their older records and enjoy them still. They may not so great now, but that doesn’t they weren’t great at all. It’s just a simple case of fame and fortune getting the best of them. I will say that if you are a fan of pop-rock, funk, or just really catchy music with substance, this is something to look into.