June 1, 2007

Shortcuts—Maroon 5's It Won't Be Soon Before Long

During Stevie Wonder’s hiatus, the world was in need of a soulful voice that could deliver songs of amour pleasingly coupled with synthesized rock and Motown grooves. Maroon 5 stepped up to the plate and hit home run after home run with their singles “Harder to Breathe,” “This Love,” and “She Will Be Loved,” which were geared with overtly sexual lyrics, passionate guitars, and a lead singer who can put the funk on any note that spills out of his mouth. Half a decade later, the quintet is ready to grace the world with their version of pop-rock in the form of It Won’t Be Soon Before Long.

“It really makes me wonder if I ever gave a fuck about you,” sings lead vocalist Adam Levine before spewing the kiss of death—“so this is goodbye”—in their lead single “Makes Me Wonder,” a funky, fresh chastising almost as harsh as a bashing by the cat o’ nine tails.

Oddly enough, most songs on the album push the same sparkling melodies in contrast with lyrics that reprimand and plead for respect. “Little of Your Time” begins simply with a vibrantly pellucid guitar line and progresses, adding fiercer guitars yet still maintaining the garishness the song began with. Stagnant guitars pronounce their entrance forcefully in “Can’t Stop” and reduce themselves almost to a whisper in “Kiwi,” although both songs are transformed by the reassuring effect of Levine’s smooth vocals.

On the other end, this album is as beautiful as the flowers that cover the naked bodies of Levine and his then-girlfriend Kelly McKee in the video for “This Love.” Led by an almost depressing tone, “Wake Up Call” lights up once the optimistic chorus hits and the guitars sing their hopeful tune alongside Levine.

Album closer “Back At Your Door” follows suit, yet carries a reminiscent tone that exudes a pleading sentiment best seen in lyrics like, “If I took you for granted/ I apologize for acting tough.” Yet the impressive “Nothing Lasts Forever” exquisitely elaborates on the chorus of Kanye West’s “Heard ’Em Say.”

Though Stevie Wonder may not have been able to revive his career with the dismal Time For Love, Maroon 5 have kept the soulful sound of previous Motown artists alive and don’t seem to be fading away anytime soon.