Adam Levine is no stranger to controversy. Having fronted Maroon 5 for more than two decades, he’s had more tabloid drama that you can shake a stick at. But even he was perhaps surprised when a recent Zane Lowe interview went viral. “There’s no bands anymore,” he told the Apple Music host. “I feel like they’re a dying breed”.
‘Jordi’ however both backs up his statement, and undermines his passion to actually do anything about it. Less of an album and more of a series of Adam Levine collaborations, it swaps band ethics for committee-like songwriting skewed towards algorithmic progress. At its peaks, it’s able to offer cogent arguments for Maroon 5’s colossal pop domination; at its worst, however, it merely bleeds into the background.
Opener ‘Beautiful Mistakes’ comes out all guns blazing, with a soaring Adam Levine performance matched to a guest spot from Megan thee Stallion. A cultural force and one of her generation’s most emphatic rap artists, she seems to pull her punches on a chart-ready collaboration, something a little more vanilla that, say, her Tina Snow incarnation.
Bold trop-pop moments like ‘Lost’ and ‘Lovesick’ burst out of the stereo, while a Stevie Nicks guest spot – Stevie actual Nicks, people! – amplifies the potency of ‘Remedy’.
The guests don’t always work, however. At times the cavalcade of big names can feel a little wearing, buying into the culture of the co-sign and spreading their bases a little too thin. Juice WRLD does little to improve ‘Can’t Leave You Alone’, while Jason Derulo’s spot on ‘Lifestyle’ is lacklustre.
The band’s first album in four years – since 2017’s ‘Red Pill Blues’ in fact – there’s a sense that Maroon 5 lean a little too heavily on their illustrious guests. Amid the glossy production, R&B goddess H.E.R. injects some passion into ‘Convince Me Otherwise’, while ‘Nobody’s Love’ doesn’t quite connect.
If anything, ‘Jordi’ is indicative of Maroon 5’s continuing rise into the pop heavens. As Adam Levine rightly pointed out, they’re one of the few groups left standing from their generation – yet it’s come at a cost. Continual evolutions has pushed them away from their roots, feeling less like a band and more like a committee, marking out different strategies without truly owning one themselves.
Words: Robin Murray
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