Maroon 5 isn't exactly known as the band who likes pushing any boundaries. They're more or less that radio band you hear a new song from once, say "that's not bad," then subsequently grow sick of after hearing it a hundred more times. It's no surprise that Maroon 5 makes everything sound stale with Red Pill Blues.
It's common practice to follow trends in music. It doesn't really work out if every single song is following the same trend. 'Best 4 U' opens the record with some overly polished synths, Adam Levine coming in, trying too hard to sound 10 years younger. The vocals are perhaps one of the most jarring parts of the record, every song sounding way too processed and crystalline. It becomes very obvious on 'Help Me Out,' where Julia Michaels has a much more fuller voice, then there's Levine sounding so tinny due to all the editing (the autotune is almost tangible).
Red Pill Blues overall just sounds misguided in what it tries to accomplish. The "look how fun these boys are" vibe just doesn't seem like it's working out, especially when they show that they are capable of more. 'Closure,' a funky song with a large, jamming instrumental section at the end sounds fantastic, as is the only song that really does on the album. It's jazzy and has a more mature tone to it, maintaining the fun aspect they go for. It's 11 minutes long, almost four times the length of the mean play time on the record, and yet it's smart, fun, and everything the rest of the record should've been.
But we don't get much of that here. At the end of it all, most songs are just downright annoying. Some tracks like 'Don't Wanna Know' are annoying due to being overplayed almost everywhere (and how can you bring Kendrick Lamar down to those lines? He's better than that). Closing track 'Cold' is a solid track to end on, the deep bass and gentle guitar line adding some tension out. It is pretty uneventful, and Future is worse than he usually is (which is saying something - it's just something about this band...), but the first minute had potential. It needed more buildup. 'What Lovers Do' is perhaps one of the most annoying songs this year, really making Levine's tendency to repeat words endlessly to become tiring. Other tracks like 'Lips On You' are just plain boring, and then you have 'Whiskey' which has a solid melody, but feels misguided in its metaphor. So many shots taken, but very few ever made a connection.
Maroon 5 makes everything sound stale with Red Pill Blues. There hasn't been an album in 2017 that has sounded as close to a bunch of dads trying to sound cool like this one. It's time for Maroon 5 to use their starpower to make something more mature and rigid instead of beating a trend that's run its course to death already, for an hour. They have the potential, they just need to connect with it again.
Favorite Track: Closure
Least Favorite Tracks: What Lovers Do, Whiskey
Rating: 70 / 100
Stream or buy Red Pill Blues on Apple Music: