Maroon 5settled into a cleanly contoured blue-eyed soul groove on 2010'sHands All Overand were rewarded with a clear commercial stumble -- a situation somewhat forgotten in light ofAdam Levine's 2011 elevation to superstardom via his judgeship onThe Voice.Levinedidn't abandon his band once he became a TV star. Just as the first season finished,Maroon 5recorded a duet withChristina Aguilera, "Moves Like Jagger," a single far more modern than anything onHands All Overand, not surprisingly, a much bigger hit than anything from that 2010 LP. All this set the stage for 2012'sOverexposed, its title a smirking allusion toLevine's ubiquity, its sound a reflection of how dearly the group wishes to retain the large audience they won once again with "Moves Like Jagger." Electronic rhythms easily overshadow acoustic rhythms, with even the natural swing playing as somewhat sequenced; each song gets a brittle, multipurpose surface, as easily adaptable for adult contemporary radio as it is for the club. Hooks stab with a steely confidence but they just break the skin; they prick instead of pierce. It's the productions that count, not the songs. What matters is the their cool, sleek sound, the glassiness of the ballads, the cold glint of the dance-pop that dominates this record.Maroon 5's soft swing as a band is pushed to the background -- a bonus closing cover ofPrince's "Kiss" makes that shift apparent, as the band reworks it into a rockabilly shuffle worthy ofElvis' stage show -- and it's missed, but not greatly. Even ifLevine's voice sounds a trifle thin in these cool, crisp settings, the band -- with the assistance of such guaranteed hitmakers asMax Martin,Shellback, andRyan Tedder;Levine's usual co-writer and lead guitaristJames Valentineonly has four credits here -- is adept at navigating modern pop waters, creating a record that feels briskly contemporary. They've bent with the times instead of attempting to have the fashion follow them, which may be a wise move after the general disregard paid toHands All Over--Overexposedmay not hold together as well as that album, but it's sure to keep the audience won over byThe Voice.
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