Maroon 5 Makes My Old-School Playlist

by Kevin Burton

   Suppose you somehow learn that my copy of the “Billboard Book of Number One Hits,” only goes to June of 2003, “This Is The Night” by Clay Aiken.

   You say, “When’s your birthday? I’ll get you an updated copy.”

   Well thanks for that thought, but I’d rather have tube socks for my quarantine wardrobe.

   I’m just not into the new music. That much I knew. Now I’ve learned that my brain interferes with those few times I even try to listen to new artists (“My Brain Prefers Old-School Music,” June 8).

   So I am making a small effort to check out some newish music by listening to CDs I bought but never listened to very much.

   That brings me today to It Won’t Be Soon Before Long by Maroon 5. That is their follow-up album to Songs About Jane which I really loved.  Of all the songs on the two albums, “This Love” is easily my favorite.  I was surprised to learn it peaked at only number 5 on the Hot 100.

   This Love puts the bar pretty high for the songs on their second album.

   Going through the 12 songs on the album, I have some complaints, but forgive almost all of them immediately because of the musicality and variety.

   It Won’t Be Soon Before Long is an almost perfect set for the likes of me, an old-school guy trying to enjoy some newish stuff.  That’s because the record was made with a retro feel to it. The Wikipedia page mentions Michael Jackson, Prince and Talking Heads as influences.

    I hear a lot more.

   How easy it would be to turn “Won’t Go Home Without You” into a Beach Boys song? The hook especially sounds like it. It’s irresistible to me and I can’t fathom that it never even cracked the US top 40. 

    I can hear the echoes of disco in “Not Falling Apart” but only because I lived through that era. The song would probably remind most people of The Police.

   Listen to “Back at Your Door.” Can you not hear Huey Lewis and the News do this song? 

   Some of the guitar work on “Little Of Your Time,” (but nothing else about the song) reminds me of Contemporary Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman.

   Is this just an inconsistency of mine? I listen to “Kiwi” and say “that sounds too much like Michael Jackson.” Then I hear bits and pieces of other songs that remind me of Sly and the Family Stone and I think that’s cool. It’s like one is a copy and the other is an influence.

   This deep into the pop/rock era almost everything reminds me of something else.

    I don’t call myself a reviewer of these albums. My knowledge of music is insufficient for that. I am just reacting. Part of me thinks that when talking about an album I should just meet the band where it is and deal with it. 

     Having said that, I note the constant theme of love gone wrong on the two maroon 5 albums I have and wonder, don’t these guys have anything else to talk about?  The music flows to so many places, it’s a shame to have the lyrical theme stagnate.

     “Wake Up Call” with its reference to a murder, is a song I reject altogether. At one point the drums are made to sound like a gunshot and I find that irresponsible.

    Also I like it better when songwriters make their points, paint their romantic pictures, without using explicit language. Too much of that on this record. When did allusion and subtlety go out the window?

   But I am glad I turned back to Maroon 5 though. It was worth a second listen to their second album.

   I still plan to discuss Norah Jones’ second album Feels Like Home. Critics were not kind to that one.

   Meanwhile if you have suggestions for new artists that an old-school guy could groove on without making his brain hurt, please leave them in comments below. 

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