4 Out Of 5 Stars
Better than the overproduced "Overexposed," "V" is Maroon 5's return to making candy-floss pop. I mean that as a compliment. As many bands that try to make this kind of music, few succeed at it quite the way Adam Levine and the boys do. Want more proof? Just think of Adam's TV stint on "The Voice," where assorted contestants vie for the opportunity to make this kind of music (with the odd country or soul belter mixed in for variety) and remind yourself that the show has yet to turn out a viable star. If it was that easy, they'd all have sales of the magnitude Maroon 5 have achieved.
For one thing, Maroon 5 know their way around a killer hook. Both "Maps" and "Animals" have hooks so big they belong in butcher shops and Adam's blue eyed soul delivery (and falsetto) make them stick to your ear canals. He also knows how to deliver one for the ladies, as the ballad "Unkiss Me" shows. The big piano ballad with Gwen Stefani, "My Heart Is Open" is a wonderful pairing, although "Moves Like Jagger" wins the duet contest by virtue of its snappiness. Yet Maroon 5 provides the fizz that pops in the 10's decade that it needs to stand above the fray.
I'll add an extra recommendation for the deluxe version of "V" in that two of the three songs are actually worthy of the couple extra bucks. There's the surprisingly bare bones version of the 90's one hit wonder Marcy Playground's "Sex And Candy." Then there's the Levine Oscar nominated solo track "Lost Stars," which Levine recorded for the movie "Begin Again" which he had an acting role in. They round out "V" and make it an album to rival Maroon 5's better entries.