One day, on a Sunday morning, my dad played a song called “Sunday Morning” and I really liked it. I thought the singer was really smooth, and all of the instruments that came together sounded like what a band that has great synergy should sound like. Even though I was young at the time, probably no older than seven or eight, I knew that this band and this song was something special, a cut above the rest of the pop songs playing on the radio.
While I don’t remember “Sunday Morning” ever making it to the airwaves, I do remember “This Love” being played constantly, and while all of the adults I knew absolutely loved the song, no one my age really listened to it. To be fair, I really only knew “Sunday Morning,” “This Love” and “She Will Be Loved,” the latter of which I wasn’t really a fan of. So on the weekdays, while I was in school, I’d listen to what my friends were listening to, but on the weekends, especially Sundays, I’d say to my dad, “Hey dad, can you play that ‘Sunday Morning’ song?” And play it he did. Eventually, Maroon 5’s initial time in the spotlight came to pass, and while I didn’t forget about them, I certainly didn’t hear them as often as I used to.
A couple years later, however, when Maroon 5 was a name that was very familiar in my high school, I was looking for something in my garage but stumbled upon a much better find: an album titled Songs About Jane. I instantly knew what this was. This was the album that had the song that made me smile on a Sunday morning. This was the album that all the adults owned and raved about when I was kid. This was the album that I didn’t know I needed in my life, but now that I did, I was going to wear it out in my car’s CD changer.
Coming back to this album with an older mind was a blessing; the songs I was familiar with somehow sounded better with age, and there was a gaggle of incredible songs on the album that I had no idea about before I listened to it in its entirety. Furthermore, I could appreciate Maroon 5 for what they were at the time, a band that was successfully dipping their toes in a variety of genres to make a unique sound.
The first song, “Harder to Breathe,” immediately cranks up the intensity. The guitar has a bite to it that’s undeniable, the drums sound like they’re taken from a page of your favorite punk band and Adam Levine’s sharp vocals add to the edge that this song has. Right after this is “This Love”,” which is hard to attach to a genre as it contains elements of R&B, pop, and funk. The guitar switches from hard licks to a funky background riff that compliments the moving bass and Adam Levine’s smooth vocals on a dime.The drums are loud and hard enough to make a statement, but they maintain a controlled sound to keep the tone assertive instead of aggressive.
The album is full of these songs that have elements from multiple genres that grab your attention and keep it occupied with catchy phrases from the instruments, such as “Shiver,” “Through With You,” “Not Coming Home” and “Tangled.” There are also songs that aren’t as aggressive but showcase the impressive range that this band had on the album. By now, “She Will Be Loved” is a karaoke classic, and the girl with the broken smile is familiar to just about everyone. This is one of Adam Levine’s most impressive songs as a vocalist. His voice sets the tone and energy of the piece and the instruments behind it seem to follow its lead. The way he plays inside the beat, how he can push and ease off the throttle and how he can jump to falsetto with ease are really what make this track special.
But my favorite song on this album, “Sunday Morning,” is timeless for me. A little bluesy, a little funky, a little jazzy and a little indie, this song has something for everyone. Simply put, it’s a feel good song to put on to cheer you up when you’re feeling sad, but it’s also a good song to put on when you’re happy and want to keep the good times rolling. Levine’s voice sounds smooth as silk and mixes well with the rest of the band who is. It’s a spontaneous jam session that sounds rehearsed, and the audience is listening to the band members have fun, play some great music and enjoy each other’s company.
This album is one of the most organic I’ve ever heard, and it’s a long shot away from what Adam Levine and Maroon 5 sound like nowadays. I can’t help but feel a tinge of sadness to know that this band would become one of the biggest sellouts in music history because it seems they will never get back to this sound. Still, I’m happy they were able to make this album before the insincere garbage they’re pushing out now, so I’ll always enjoy the sounds on this album and the memories it gave me.
Spencer Lee is a junior majoring in narrative studies. His column, “Spencer’s Soapbox,” runs every Tuesday. He is also the chief copy editor of the Daily Trojan.