Global neo-soul rock superstars, Maroon 5 are back with their much-anticipated sophomore album, It Won't Be Soon Before Long. The follow-up to the 10 times platinum, Grammy award-winning Songs About Jane will be sexier and stronger, according to frontman Adam Levine, who looked to 80s icons such as Prince, Michael Jackson and Talking Heads for inspiration. Recorded at home in Los Angeles with producers Mike Elizondo (Fiona Apple, Eminem), Mark Spike Stent (Bjork, Keane, Gwen Stefani), Mark Endert (Madonna, Fiona Apple), and Eric Valentine (Queens of the Stone Age, Nickel Creek) the album promises to be a louder take on the pop sounds of their first effort. It's definitely aggressive, upbeat and pounding, says Levine.
Sometimes it's O.K.--even important--to put aside your reluctance to embrace artists who make teenage girls scream. It happened in 2006, when Justin Timberlake scraped the sludge off pop and left something shiny behind, and it's happening again in 2007 with Maroon 5. It Won't Be Soon Before Long, the L.A. band's sophomore studio disc, rode in on a crest of hype and crumpled expectations--fan reports had it that Adam Levine & Co. scrapped their signature pop-soul sound for something harder and darker. Not so. Shades of Prince, Hall & Oates, and Sting still color the Maroon sound (check out the spectacularly fizzy "Little of Your Time," as well as the first single, "Makes Me Wonder," a song catchier than fire), but they're made ever fainter here by the clamping down of five guys on what is essentially the most distinctive pop sound to emerge from a single band since the Bee Gees squealed into the mid-'70s. It Won't Be Soon squares hip-hop sensibilities ("Wake Up Call") with rock ones ("If I Never See Your Face Again") and stormy moods ("Can't Stop") with bittersweet ballads ("Better That We Break"). It's a disc destined to defy detractors and go on to greatness, elevating the credibility of teenage girls for years to come. --Tammy La Gorce