Maroon 5 - Red Pill Blues: Review
Red Pill Blues marks Maroon 5's sixth studio album, featuring six collaborations and a seven minute jam session at the end. All fifteen tracks are potential hits, which is no surprise coming from the band whose every album has gone platinum, if not multiplatinum.
"Best 4 U" starts the album as a groovy throwback track which is radio-ready. It is closely followed by the dance floor-friendly and flirty "What Lovers Do", featuring R&B upstart SZA. Other tracks include "Girls Like You" which is similar to previous Maroon 5 tracks such as "Daylight" and "Love Somebody" (both from their fourth studio album Overexposed), and reflect the dominance of Ed Sheehan in the charts including a similar 'strummy' vibe. Additional throwbacks on the deluxe album include "Denim Jacket". This track is essentially an electronic version of a lost love ballad and is extremely reminiscent of Songs About Jane, Maroon 5's first studio album.
"Whiskey" offers a slight change from the heavily featured melancholy electronic and synth tone. Levine and A$AP Rocky join together to produce a hypnotic and stripped-down jam that would be perfect for a late night car ride. My favourite track is the moody and beautiful "Closure", aptly named as it closes the album. Beginning with Levine's unique vocals, the track then ends with the band playing about with riffs and funky textures for another seven minutes - a rather bold step for a so-called-mainstream band such as Maroon 5, however it is an extremely welcome addition to the album.
The name of the album has caused some controversy. While meant to be a reference to 1999's The Matrix, where the red pill would cause the protagonist to awaken and be able to view the world for how it actually was, the blue pill would cause him to return to the blissful ignorance of the computer simulation. Instead the phrase is now popular among men's rights activists who use it to epitomise the moment they realise that women want to be dominated and that all feminists are evil. Lead guitarist, James Valentine stated that while it was too late for the band to change the name, they hope that they can reclaim it for the 'good side'.
Overall the album is cohesive and beautifully made. Levine's fearsome falsetto accompanies every track and we see Maroon 5 doing what they do best, writing well-crafted and cleverly produced songs that will be heard in the car, the club and the supermarket for years to come (anyone remember "She Will Be Loved" or "Moves Like Jagger" or "Sugar"? Yes - they are still played on the radio on a daily basis).
Red Pill Blues is an ultra-current album with just enough versatility to seduce anyone.