The most you can hope for from Maroon 5 is oblivion. The band hummed and strummed their way into perpetual background music, cooing sanded-down soft rock in every Starbucks, Adam Levine’s signature whine pleading for love and rain and Sunday mornings. It was anaesthesia. Levine became a bland, steady presence in pop culture, preaching banalities and judging TV singing competitions. In the nearly 20 years since the band debuted with Songs About Jane, they’ve clawed at pop trends—EDM-inspired beats, strategic collaborations with rappers—occasionally finding a hook so sugary, a drum pattern so blunting, that you surrendered to the rush of it. You don’t turn to Maroon 5 for their baggy, overcommitted metaphors or their sappy ballads. You listen so you can submerge.
The band’s seventh record comes up short. They continue to fumble for relevancy with mismatched features and plastic-sounding pop, but these tracks are more scattered and chaotic than on past albums. Jordi’s title is a tribute to Maroon 5’s late manager, who died suddenly in 2017, and there are pockets of mourning on the record. “Doo doo doo doo doo, memories bring back you,” Levine hums over a cloying guitar line on “Memories.” Maroon 5’s take on love has always been doused in cliché; their response to tragedy is equally pallid. When the band released “Nobody’s Love” as a single in July 2020, Levine wrote on Instagram that he made the song with “the whole world in mind,” urging essential workers and social justice activists to remember the “potent power of love” as they listened to him croon. “Ain’t nobody want to live in this world today,” he proclaims on “One Light,” an Afrobeats-lite collaboration with pop songwriter Bantu. Elsewhere, there’s a jarring posthumous Nipsey Hussle verse on a remix of “Memories” and an uncharacteristically anodyne appearance from the late rapper Juice WRLD, on a track otherwise devoted to Levine begging a love interest to talk to him.
This is not about a band experimenting beyond their comfort zone; it is the sound of a band trying desperately to appeal to as many markets as possible. blackbear delivers an almost identical flow to the chorus of his hit “hot girl bummer” on “Echo,” and Levine tries on the rapper’s trap drums and fluorescent production. He’s his own guest feature on the streaming-service bonus track “Lifestyle,” which is actually a Jason Derulo song. “Can’t get your lipstick off my col-la-laaaaa,” he babbles. “You do that thing that keep me calling ya.” The band attempts a sweeping, theatrical ballad on “Convince Me Otherwise,” Levine and H.E.R. trading verses about a lovers’ argument, but the song caves in under the weight of self-seriousness. Jordi bounces between smeary electropop haze, wobbles of tropical house, a forgettable Stevie Nicks appearance. It’s too cluttered to sink into, too limp for catharsis.
The album credits a whopping 47 writers, and there is a vague comfort in how precisely these songs are formulated, hooks and synths and predictable rhymes snapping into place. But if past Maroon 5 songs addressed convincing-enough emotions (misery, longing, horniness), Jordi has few discernible narratives. Levine goes from wondering how he can “save my mama” to deeming a love interest his “starlight and moonshine and burning sun.” “I’m not holding on, I’m just depressed that you’re gone,” he lilts on “Beautiful Mistakes,” by far the most palatable track. It’s a simple admission, dissolving into chants of “na na na” and clean, frictionless chords. The song builds to a Megan Thee Stallion feature, but like the band’s past collaborations with the biggest female star of the moment—the Cardi B-featuring “Girls Like You,” the SZA duet “What Lovers Do”—it feels flimsy and transactional, an excuse to briefly join Megan’s orbit. This, too, is part of Maroon 5’s time-tested…
Read More: Maroon 5: Jordi Album Review