Is there a band more maddening than Maroon 5?

Yes, Adam Levine has a distinctive, soulful voice. Yes, the band, especially guitarist James Valentine, knows how to lay down a great groove. That's what makes the haphazard, half-finished results they turn out on "Hands All Over" (A&M / Octone) all the more exasperating.

One minute, Maroon 5 is firing on all cylinders, with the '80s throwback "Give a Little More" and its undeniable dance hook. The next minute, Levine is whining as he counts down from five and rhymes "zero" with "hero" in "Curtain Call."

The whole stylish, positive pop package sounds so effective on "I Can't Lie," which plays like a cross between Billy Joel's "River of Dreams" and Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)." The lovely country-tinged ballad "Out of Goodbyes," with Lady Antebellum, sounds achingly adult, as does the potent "How."

But those high points are weighed down by the clunky, unpolished moments of other songs. The ridiculous title track sounds like a reworking of "Rock On" that was meant as a joke for the David Hasselhoff roast. The jittery soul of "Last Chance" contains groaners like "I provide something that you almost have - hot flesh that you yearn to grab."

Sure, we live in an a la carte music world, where these missteps will likely fly under the radar of even Maroon 5 fans. But until Levine and friends focus for an entire album, it will remain hard to take them seriously.


"Hands All Over"




Pure pop with wildly uneven results

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