Release Date: Sep 21, 2010
Record label: A&M
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock
Doubling down on the blue-eyed soul that’s always been their cornerstone, Maroon 5 up the ante on Hands All Over, stripping their rock to the bare minimum, giving every song, even the power ballads, an immaculate tight groove. It is the exact opposite move expected from the hiring of superstar producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, the man responsible for some of the greatest hard rock and heavy metal albums in history, but Lange has a knack for focusing on the elements that define a band’s core character, and with Maroon 5 he’s realized how Adam Levine possesses a relative lack of lead singer ego. He is undoubtedly the superstar of the outfit -- the skinny pretty boy with the high voice -- but all things considered, he disappears within his band, co-writing much of the album with keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, letting the song and vibe take precedence over performance.
Maroon 5 are already one of the slickest bands to make frequent visits to the north end of the top-40 charts, so it's crazy to think there's a producer out there who felt they needed a bit of polishing up. But Mutt Lange isn't just any producer, and when he summons you to his Swiss castle/studio, there's a high probability that you'll leave with an album that makes your record label drool. [rssbreak] Hands All Over is hit-laden with singles and no filler.
Rock music, that bastion of the angstful and testosteroned, has seldom had a frontman as unconcerned with grit or subtext as Adam Levine. He is the genre’s lite-funky Romeo, a man whose musical topics of interest seem to begin and end with sexy ladies: loving them, losing them, and then, invariably, finding a rubber-band bass line to ride on to the next one. Much has been made of Hands All Over, the band’s third studio album in eight years, being produced by Mutt Lange — the reclusive, choosy maestro behind multiplatinum monsters like Def Leppard’s Hysteria and then wife Shania Twain’s Come On Over.
In a recent Billboard cover story, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine expressed frustration over the “general perception” that his band is little more than a manufactured pop act. He pointed out that the band writes all of its own material, and that they started out in a Los Angeles garage, making grungy ‘60s pop under the name Kara’s Flowers. But with a bevy of quotes drawn from Maroon 5’s many professional handlers, the rest of the Billboard article belies Levine’s point: A&M label head James Diener explains that all five band members are shown in their videos to emphasize the whole “real band” thing, but Levine and keyboardist Jesse Carmichael are the only members quoted in the piece, and promo man Ben Berkman furrows his brow over the fact that 2007’s It Won’t Be Soon Before Long sold just half what of its predecessor did, before contending hopefully that Levine’s got Brad Pitt’s better-with-age sex appeal.
Maroon 5’s fourth LP is best when adopting its new-found glam-stomp. Fraser McAlpine 2010 A brief aside: Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange must have the weirdest production CV of almost anyone in the rock era. Who else has managed to make an astonishing living at the helm of worldwide hit albums from artists as diverse as Def Leppard, AC/DC, The Corrs and Shania Twain? He is, however, the perfect person to buff up Maroon 5’s lascivious pop, given that Adam Levine clearly fancies himself as something of a dirty old rock star.