In an ever-changing musical landscape, where tastes change with lightning speed and stars fizzle out as quickly as they are discovered, Maroon 5 is a constant. Since the group’s 2002 debut, Adam Levine and company have thrived in the physical, digital and streaming eras. Almost like clockwork, the band has emerged every two or three years with an all-conquering smash hit followed by a platinum-selling album. Although it’s now been closer to four years since the last album, and nearly two since the hit single “Memories” sent up a first flair for this album, it’s easy to imagine the pattern continuing with the just-released “Jordi.”
Maroon 5’s staggering longevity also makes the band an easy target. They unapologetically chase musical trends with a gusto frowned upon by the rock world. The organic sound of “Songs About Jane” gave way to radio-ready pop on “Overexposed” and “V,” before veering into hip-hop-inspired production on 2017’s “Red Pill Blues.” The only thread that holds their last three records together is Adam Levine’s voice, but thankfully it’s an industrial-strength product.
While the band’s willingness to move with the times can seem overly calculated, they deliver critic-proof hits more often than they have a right to. Songs like “Sugar,” “Girls Like You” and “Memories,” the lead single from “Jordi,” are now part of the pop culture fabric. On the flip side, Maroon 5’s adaptability doesn’t always translate to a cohesive album. Instead of running from that, the band embraces it on “Jordi,” beating their fans to the punch by making a playlist of bangers.
Executive produced by Jacob “J Kash” Hindlin and Levine, album number seven is an expertly curated summer soundtrack full of undeniable toe-tappers and superstar collaborations. Named after the band’s late manager Jordan Feldstein, “Jordi” nods to the steady march of time with features from late rappers Juice WRLD (“Can’t Leave You Alone”) and Nipsey Hussle (he features on a remix of “Memories” alongside YG). “Memories,” the album’s all-conquering lead single, released back in 2017, gets introspective, but neither that nor the album’s dedication should indicate that the final product has mournfulness much on its mind. After the heaviness of 2020, Maroon 5 understands that people are ready to have a little fun.
Given the band’s ability to span eras, it’s only fitting that the best tracks on “Jordi” feature artists at two very different ends of the musical spectrum. Stevie Nicks lends her legendary voice to “Remedy,” a dreamy, ‘80s-inflected earworm that leaves you wanting more. Co-written with Starrah and produced by Boi-1da, this is the closest Nicks has come to a pure pop moment since Fleetwood Mac’s “Tango In The Night.” Equally impressive is “Convince Me Otherwise,” a collaboration with Grammy and Oscar winner H.E.R. This gem also has its roots in the ‘80s with warm, fuzzy synths and the kind of chorus that lodges in your brain and simply refuses to budge.
Another successful experiment is “One Light” featuring Zimbabwean artist/producer Bantu. He brings some African flavor to the mix as well as a mellow, summer-centric approach. It just works… a description that applies equally to “Button.” Featuring super-producer Tainy and reggaeton heavyweight Anuel AA, this banger finds Maroon 5 dabbling in Latin pop. In lesser hands it could have gone very wrong, but “Button” is a genre-blending delight that stands out as a potential single.
Of the non-collaborations, highlights include the melodic, Sting-channeling “Lost” and the Mikky Ekko-produced “Lovesick.” Along with 2020’s underrated “Nobody’s Love,” they are a quiet reminder that Maroon 5 doesn’t really need a special guest to make top-shelf, streaming-friendly pop.
Inevitably, for an album as eclectic as “Jordi,” there a couple of songs that don’t sit well with the others. “Seasons” is a lackluster dalliance with hip-hop production, while “Lifestyle” — a duet Levine recorded with Jason Derulo at the top of the year — feels like something of an afterthought.
What “Jordi” lacks in cohesiveness, it makes up for with bangers and much-needed good vibes. It’s easy to be cynical about a legacy act that shows no sign of retreating to Vegas and belting out their greatest hits, but Maroon 5 takes it in its stride. The band might be the musical equivalent of a corporation at this point, but it’s an exceedingly well-run one that continues to deliver a high-quality product.