Album Review: Maroon 5 – Red Pill Blues

By Maria Lubanovic, Staff Writer
[Interscope; 2017]
Rating: 6/10

Key Tracks: “Lips On You”, “Don’t Wanna Know”, “Denim Jacket”

Let’s start this review by all agreeing that this album artwork is atrocious. It’s the band members but with Snapchat filters on their portraits. Did Snapchat pay you guys to do this? Come on. 

Red Pill Blues is Maroon 5’s sixth full-length album. The deluxe version on the album clocks in at over an hour and features collaborations with artists like SZA and Kendrick Lamar. Some of the singles came out almost a year ago but are still cohesive with the sound on the rest of the album.

Red Pill Blues opens with the soft rock/pop-filled “Best 4 U”, a track that is basically Adam Levine’s vocals over bubbly synths. The track isn’t super layered with instrumentals, but it works to highlight the vocals. That happens a lot on this album, where guitar and drums and piano almost completely disappear to make room for synth and only synth.

“Lips On You” is Maroon 5’s stab at a sexy track with heavier instrumentals and slower tempo. Levine’s voice is silky smooth and seductive. It works, especially with the rhythmic bass drops and churning drums.

Some of the best tracks from the album come from the collaborations. “What Lovers Do” sounds like something you could hear playing over the speakers in a faux-trendy mall chain store, but it makes you wish SZA was highlighted more.  Levine moves into his signature falsetto to match with Julia Michaels on “Help Me Out”, an upbeat and poppy track. “Don’t Wanna Know” was released prior to the album’s release, and is a strong choice for the single, with its relaxed, tropical instrumentals. Kendrick only gets about eight bars, which is a shame, but it’s reconciled by the rest of the track.

Why is there an 11-minute almost fully instrumental track in the middle of the album? Anyone? It’s cool, but, why? “Closure” opens with something that resembles a typical Maroon 5 chorus and in three minutes turns into something entirely different. A jazzy instrumental section? Yeah! Is Maroon 5 made up of more people than Adam Levine? Yes! How we know — by only this track.

“Denim Jacket” is definitely one of the break-out tracks on the album. Levine’s vocals on this track are beautiful as he sings about losing a woman that used to wear a denim jacket. Yeah, it’s not that deep, but the sweet and catchy vocals make it worth the shallow lyrics. The album closes with “Cold”, a fitting end for the album that happens to feature Future.

It’s a Maroon 5 album; they work as the pop band they are, churning out massive quantities of relaxed, un-political, and overall fun music about love, sex, and having a good time. Every track on the album (except for “Closure”) has a place on the CD played at your local clothing store or coffee shop. It’s basic. They know their formula, and it works, as usual.

Listen here:

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