by Julia Vaccarella ’20
Maroon 5 fans worldwide are buzzing about the release of the band’s sixth studio album, Red Pill Blues, that was released Nov. 3. The 15 tracks on the deluxe version of the album reveal a different sound than the band has traditionally stuck to; Maroon 5 has come a long way since their rise to fame in the early 2000s, but Red Pill Blues certainly contains more pop does rock music.
Formerly a group of five, the band now has seven members, which the band makes public on the album cover. The title, Red Pill Blues, is an allusion to a scene during the popular film, The Matrix, in which the main character must choose between either a blue or red pill.
The album’s lead single, “What Lovers Do,” was released in August, and features a collaboration with the up-and-coming R&B singer SZA. Although it is partially offset by the vocals, this song indicated to fans early on that this album would be heavily influenced by the electronic genre.
Features account for six out of the 15 songs on the extended album, another new approach for the group. The album contains collaborations with rap artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Future, and A$AP Rocky.
Fans and critics have offered mixed responses to this drastic change in style. While some embrace this as a push towards more lively and upbeat tracks, others have condemned it as a mere strategy aimed at getting songs onto the charts.
Adam Levine the band’s lead singer, who is also a judge on The Voice, said, “I think that pop music has a level of sophistication that sometimes goes undetected. Releasing the right kind of songs at the right times is an extremely important and underappreciated art form—in my humble opinion.”
Metacritic, which rates songs on a scale up to 100, gives Red Pill Blues a 58, as compared to a score of 66 for the 2007 album It Won’t Be Soon Before Long. The album does have a few songs to offer anyone nostalgic for the Maroon 5 that produced “She Will Be Loved” and “Sunday Morning.”
“Denim Jacket,” for example, contains a much slower pace that echoes the ballads Maroon 5 was once known for. “Closure” is a fitting name for the last track on the album. The voices of Julia Michaels and Levine also work well together on “Help Me Out.”
As time passes, artists experiment by taking risks and adopting new sounds; Red Pill Blues is certainly a testament to this. “We would get bored if we tried to make Songs About Jane six times,” said guitarist James Valentine. The album is a departure from what listeners would expect and explicitly boasts of pop and electronic beats, which are still likely to hit top charts.
From here, fans can only hope that Maroon 5 maintains the unique sound that they go crazy for and that the group does not completely succumb to the mainstream trend.