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True to its title, V represents the fifth full-length studio effort from Grammy Award winning superstars Maroon 5. Considering that career benchmark, Maroon 5’s latest provides a sonic summation of the group’s journey to date – capturing the essence of the earliest M5 hits through to their most recent successes, as well as providing a picture of its artistic growth into the future. Bringing it all back home, V also marks the return of M5’s original keyboardist Jesse Carmichael to the fold, rejoining frontman Adam Levine, guitarist James Valentine, bassist Mickey Madden, drummer/percussionist Matt Flynn, and keyboardist PJ Morton after a two-year hiatus. V also builds on the momentum of the most successful period in M5’s history, re-teaming the band with previous collaborators and featuring some unexpected new friends, too.
For V, Maroon 5 has created a set of irresistible pop juggernauts raising the band’s sound to the next level. V’s lead-off single “Maps” finds Maroon 5 taking the reggae-influenced vibes the group honed on Overexposed hits like “One More Night” to new heights, via an infectious pop-rock meditation on longing and obsession (“I was there for you in your darkest times/I was there for you in your darkest nights”), where Levine’s soulful ,elastic falsetto recalls none other than one of his biggest inspirations, Sting and The Police. It also reteams the songwriting collaboration between Levine and Ryan Tedder (Adele, Beyoncé, One Direction), Benny Blanco (Katy Perry, Britney Spears) and Ammar Malik (Gym Class Heroes, Lady Antebellum, “Moves Like Jagger”).
That reggae influence also shows up on the “whoa-oh-ohs” of “Animals”: a lustful anthem driven by a booming, Soul II Soul-style hip-hop beat, “Animals”’ hooky chorus (“Baby, I’m preying on you tonight/Hunt you down, eat you alive/Just like animals”) evokes the otherworldly melodies of Miike Snow. As such, V also finds Maroon 5 returning to the dancefloor with standout track “Feelings,” whose disco-meets-Michael Jackson groove, 4/4 EDM thump, and Daft Punk-style vocoders suggests “Moves Like Jagger” on robot steroids.
Meanwhile, it’s become a M5 tradition to feature a collaboration with an unexpected guest artist, with major talents like Wiz Khalifa (“Payphone”), Lady Antebellum (“Out of Goodbyes”), Rihanna (“If I Never See Your Face Again”) and Christina Aguilera (“Moves Like Jagger”) having done the honors on hits past. On that level, V does not disappoint, as “My Heart Is Open” features Levine performing a duet with none other than Gwen Stefani.
That’s not the only surprise on V, however. “My Heart Is Open” reveals Maroon 5 at its most emotionally raw and direct: it features Levine’s passionate romantic testifying (“I don’t need another lover/I want you”) over a spare, heart-tugging piano ballad, building to a soaring chorus with subtle orchestration. “Leaving California,” meanwhile, hearkens back to the classic M5 sound – the bittersweet yet catchy confessionals of heartbreak from Songs About Jane that propelled the band to fame in the first place. As such, V brings Maroon 5 full circle, moving strength to strength from the band’s vital beginnings to its ongoing rise – taking the listener down nostalgic and new paths alike to create the latest undeniable chapter in the M5 odyssey.
Maroon 5 V Track Listing:
3. It Was Always You
4. Unkiss Me
6. Leaving California
7. In Your Pocket
8. New Love
9. Coming Back For You
11. My Heart Is Open feat. Gwen Stefani