Archive

Maroon 5 coming to PPG Paints Arena this weekend | TribLIVE.com
Music

Maroon 5 coming to PPG Paints Arena this weekend

Back around the start of 2016, as members of Maroon 5 had started to turn their attention to doing a sixth album, guitarist James Valentine told some interviewers he thought the band might return to a sound along the lines of the band’s 2002 debut album, “Songs About Jane.”

But instead of returning to the old-school organic, guitar-based soul-pop of that album, Maroon 5 made its most modern, synthetic sounding electro-pop-styled release yet with the 2017 release, “Red Pill Blues.”

Valentine good-naturedly says he’s learning from speaking a bit too soon.

“That’s my own fault for opening my big mouth,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I always offered that with a caveat that we never really know what’s going to happen until we get in there and sort of start really fighting (through) the creative process…There was no sort of grand sort of scheme or anything. It was just ‘OK, these are the songs that we dig right now.’”

Certainly, an album like “Red Pill Blues” made sense for the climate of pop music today. It’s been said plenty of times that rock music is dead and guitars are an endangered species, at least where top 40 pop is concerned. Music on pop radio is overwhelmingly synthetic, with keyboards, synthesizers and programmed beats the sonic tools of the trade and hip-hop and electronica blending with bigger-the-better pop hooks meant to immediately grab the attention of listeners.

That’s pretty much what Maroon 5 delivered on “Red Pill Blues.”

R&B influence

The group retains the classic songwriting structures and the R&B/soul influence that have always characterized Maroon 5 music. But the R&B influence is more modern on “Red Pill Blues, and a hip-hop feel figures strongly into songs like “Best 4 U,” “Wait” (a recent top 5 single on “Billboard” magazine’s Adult Top 40 and Mainstream Top 40 charts) and “Who I Am,” while the element of classic pop-rock that always ran through the band’s music is less pronounced. In addition, “Red Pill Blues” finds the group dialing back on its tempos and putting more of an electronic sheen on many of the songs.

Valentine sees the contrasts between “Red Pill Blues” and the previous Maroon 5 albums, but feels the album isn’t that big of a musical departure.

“It’s definitely a little more chill. I think that might have something to do, it certainly could have something to do with our age,” he said. “I do think it sounds a little more mature. There was a frenetic sort of energy to a lot of our earlier stuff, so the tempos are little more laid back and the beats are more hip-hop influenced.

“But I think in our overall like catalog, I think all of our records there’s a through line, which is there’s a soul and R&B influence and then the sort of classic songwriting approach,” Valentine said. “I think this record still contains that. So it seems to fit as a part of the overall catalog.”

Continued popularity

Coming up with songs that work for radio has obviously been a big ingredient in the continued popularity of Maroon 5, which includes Valentine, singer Adam Levine, guitarist/keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, bassist Mickey Madden, drummer Matt Flynn, multi-instrumentalist Sam Farrar and keyboardist PJ Morton.

What has also helped has been Levine’s role since 2011 as a judge and coach on the hit television show “The Voice.” Valentine feels Levine’s much higher profile has greatly benefited the band as a whole. The band has also been able to launch its singles by performing them on “The Voice” — the kind of exposure that must leave other acts green with envy.

Alan Sculley is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.


257841gtrTKmaroon50927190
Adam Levine (left) and James Valentine of Maroon 5 perform at a 2017 iHeartRadio album release party with the band in Burbank, Calif.
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.