Photo Credit: Wex & Alex
Maroon 5 has become well-known for their singles, but virtually forgotten when it comes to their deep tracks. Songs like “Moves Like Jagger” and “Payphone” dominated the airwaves due to their generic pop sound and easy-to-sing-along lyrics. None of their songs would be out of place in 2012 or 2021. The band’s seventh studio album, JORDI, is no exception and gives listeners eleven songs that don’t stand out on their own, and come together to make an all-around forgettable album.
The album name JORDI pays homage to the band’s former manager, Jordan Feldstein, who passed away in December 2017. The first single, “Memories”, is a sentimental track that looks to honor the memory of those who we have lost, while celebrating the life they’ve lived as well. It’s one of the best tracks on the album, and it’s no surprise that with it’s catchy beat and melody that it peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also stuck in everyone’s head like their previous singles, giving hope for an evolved version of Maroon 5 in the wake of the loss.
Pop artists typically have to evolve their sound to stay relevant, but there’s a reason Maroon 5 doesn’t deviate from their tried and true format: it works for them. Each song on JORDI that deviates from the formula feels out of sync with the rest of the tracks – and not in a good way. “Seasons” seems to blend country vocals and lyrics with trap beats with a confusing result. A collaboration with the legendary Stevie Nicks falls flat due to overproduction on the vocal tracks, sanitizing it until it became a characterless pop song.
Even tracks that had the potential to be good fell victim to the sanitization. “Nobody’s Love” had the potential to be a powerful song reflecting on how interacting with love can start to heal the various bipartisan divisions, social justice movements, and loneliness over the past year and a half. Without reading that background knowledge on social media, the intended meaning gets lost and distilled into a break up song characterized with cheesy lyrics like “Hit me like a drug and I can’t stop it” and “I’m never gonna need nobody’s love but yours.”
Other collaborators add a welcome change of pace to their respective songs, but don’t inject too much personality into them. None of the featured artists seem to serve any purpose except an attempt to cross-pollinate fan bases and increase the song’s streaming potential. Lead singer Adam Levine’s vocals are consistently impressive throughout the record. However, Levine has not changed the cadence of his voice over the past 10 years, leaving a lot of room for experimentation and growth.
It’s true that Maroon 5 has become a “singles” band since the 2010s, but cramming eleven songs with “single” potential onto one album causes some of them to get lost in the fray. With an arsenal of heartfelt and emotional topics to write about, JORDI still turned out to be as bland as white bread. Overall, Maroon 5 has produced a perfectly fine pop album that neither impresses or offends.