Pop rock band Maroon 5 released their brand new album “Red Pill Blues” on November 3rd, 2017 through Interscope Records. It’s the first studio release featuring new member Sam Farrar after becoming a touring member back in 2012. The album title is derived from the 1999 sci-fi movie The Matrix, which contains a scene where there is a decision to take a red or blue pill. Maroon 5 spent almost three years touring for their previous album “V”, before dropping the first single for “Red Pill Blues” in October of 2016, “Don’t Wanna Know” featuring Kendrick Lamar which was a tropical house based single and absolutely smashed the charts and the radio. The follow up single was released in February 2017 called “Cold” and featured rapped Future, song managed to eclipse the top 40 radio charts and was another successful track for them.
Progressively we have seen Maroon 5 transition from a more rock based sound to more electronic pop, and it’s even more evident on “Red Pill Blues”. Like all Maroon 5 albums Adam Levine’s voice takes center stage and it’s almost impossible to notice that there’s even a band behind him, his voice has been its own franchise for years rebooting itself year after year. This brand new 15 track record presents the most electronic production the band released to date. They’ve managed to replace classic Maroon 5, and replace it with a newly created sound with synthy bass lines and bouncy hooks. “Red Pill Blues” starts out with “Best 4 U” which is almost reminiscent of a Weeknd chart topper, before Maroon 5 fans are taken on a rollercoaster ride of vibey pop sounds from start to finish. Songs like “Wait” and “Lips On You,” contain a more amped up production, but at the same time doesn’t take away from the classic Maroon 5 artistry. If you listen closely the acoustic sound is still evident behind the beats on tracks like “Bet My Heart” and “Girls Like You”.
The biggest difference with this LP compared to many of the previous from Maroon 5 is the help they’ve enlisted to make a chart topping project. With the likes of writing and producing from Charlie Puth, Julia Michaels, Tinashe to name a few there are also some heavy hitters in the collaboration department as well, with artists such as A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar and LunchMoney Lewis assisting on the album. But original fans of the band will find memories of the band’s first album in the song “Denim Jacket”, which is basically a electronic based ballad. What is very evident in this record is the lyrical and musical contrast that show cases Maroon 5’s veteran expertise, which is a reminder they have the versatility to evolve with today’s industry. When it comes to the lyrical content, Maroon 5 has remained brilliant with catchy hooks portraying various relationship situations either through metaphors or punchy opening lines.
Another standout track on the album, “Wait,” has a distinct, compelling rhythm that matches the lyrical themes of patience and urgency. The verses are simple, and the hooks and choruses are catchy and have radio hit written all over them, it’s a clear departure from their previous love ballads that were present on “Songs About Jane”, Maroon 5’s highly successful debut album. “Red Pill Blues” finds Maroon 5 doing what they do best, writing well-crafted, cleverly produced pop songs that instantly nudge you to the dance floor. This strong sixth studio album is co-produced by Levine, who has a hand in writing every song, and producer J Kash, who helped the band with the previous hits “Sugar” and “Cold.”
As someone who didn’t really relish in Maroon 5’s previous works, this album has definitely caught my attention. For major fans of the band I think you will be greatly disappointed because I don’t think there is any sign that they’ll return to their roots. “What Lovers Do,” features SZA and radiates an interesting style and sound. Its beats and vibe make you feel as though you’re listening to a house record, and could easily ignite a crowd, something their debut record failed to do. “Closure” is another song that takes us on a boppy ride of acoustic melodies, laced with more pop production around it, another break up song delivered with repetitive catchy hooks.
Between the diversity in the sounds and the feels the group triggers throughout, Maroon 5 manage to deliver pop magic with the latest record. “Red Pill Blues” is almost a debut album for a re-invented sound delivered from a veteran rock group, indicating while 2002 Maroon 5 was good, 2017 Maroon 5 is cementing it’s self as legendary. “Red Pill Blues” is available now.
1. “Best 4 U”
2. “What Lovers Do” (ft. SZA)
4. “Lips On You”
5. “Bet My Heart”
6. “Help Me Out” (with Julia Michaels)
7. “Who I Am” (ft. LunchMoney Lewis)
8. “Whiskey” (ft. A$AP Rocky)
9. “Girls Like You”
11. “Denim Jacket”
13. “Plastic Rose”
14. “Don’t Wanna Know” (ft. Kendrick Lamar)
15. “Cold” (ft. Future)