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MAROON 5 - IT WONíT BE SOON BEFORE LONG - UNIVERSAL
Record Rating: *****

MAROON 5 - IT WON’T BE SOON BEFORE LONG From out of seemingly nowhere, Maroon 5 emerged as one of the more surprising success stories of 2004. Suddenly, the group was everywhere: hitting the top echelons of the charts, selling out gigs and appearing on every television show thatíd have them. Major label debut Songs About Jane sold millions of copies and the CD eventually spent more than 100 weeks on the US Charts. At the 2005 Grammy Awards, they even trounced the odds-on favourite rapper Kanye West, by winning the coveted Best New Artist trophy instead of him.

On sophomore release It Wonít Be Soon Before Long, the band runs with the sound and success of their eponymous debut, creating an album that was designed to be bigger and better. The twelve tracks are tuneful, soulful fusions of pop, rock, soul and new wave and produced so smoothly it all blends together. The shift in direction may disarm some fans of the debut (which was pretty much just straight rock), but the band winds up with a bright, shiny effort thatís considerably more colourful than its predecessor. First single Makes Me Wonder has been lodged at #1 on the charts for week after week for a reason; itís a sterling piece of propulsive near-power pop that sweeps you up in an irresistible top-of-the-lungs sing-along, and becomes the reference point for the rest of the album.

Swoon-inspiring frontman Adam Levineís love for the Bee Gees, Prince and the Michael Jackson era sound shines throughout, with cursory nods to au courant trends Ė Canít Stop is bolstered by a Justin Timberlake like groove, while the breezy melody of Back At Your Door reminds you of a pre Madman Across The Water-era Elton John. Elsewhere, achingly gorgeous romantic numbers like Wonít Go Home Without You and Nothing Lasts Forever will tear your heart right out of your chest and abandon it bleeding on a rain-soaked cobblestone street. Songs like If I Never See Your Face Again and Goodnight Goodnight will you dry out a bit, and also illustrates what the band truly excels at: big, glossy alt-pop in the tradition of INXS and U2.

The real surprise on It Wonít Be Soon Before Long is the groupís growth as craftsmen and Levineís progression as a songwriter and singer. Prior to this album, Levine had a tendency to oversell his songs ~ not just in the delivery, but in the writing ~ and the band followed him along. Here, he and the group tone down their performances, never pushing themselves to oversell a song, making this the yearís most sumptuous Top 40 record. This is great music, the kind that can be played over and over again.

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