I really should have taken the album cover – headshots of the very-clearly-in-their-30s band adorned by snapchat style filters – as an omen of what to expect from Red Pill Blues.
Unfortunately, this glaring (and pretty lame) attempt to stay relevant very much carries over to the album itself. Opener ‘Best 4 U’ is a catchy, if uninspired, track shimmering with 80s style synths and a hip hop beat. Most notable by far is frontman Adam Levigne’s vocal skills (disregarding the inevitable use of autotune), giving some much needed flare to the forgettable instrumentals.
Next, lead single ‘What Lovers Do’ managed to fulfil every cliché of a pop song in 2017, thus promising to be a staple of second-rate nightclubs for the next few months, before being promptly forgotten. SZA’s feature adds little more to the track than another big name.
There is only so may times one can listen to Levigne’s silky falsetto sing about how much he loves his women, before it starts to get very, very annoying.
As the album progresses, the ability to view each song as distinct from a generic pool of throwaway products becomes increasingly tricky. Some lyrical variety might well have staved off this; there is only so many times one can listen to Levigne’s silky falsetto sing about how much he loves his women (of which ever single lyric, no exceptions, is some variation of), before it starts to get very, very annoying.
This album does have its occasional moments; Levigne manages to inject a bit of soul into the chorus of ‘Lips On You’, whilst Julia Michael’s somewhat rougher vocals on ‘Help Me Out’ complements the upbeat instrumentals nicely, making for undeniably fun listening. Final track ‘Closure’ sees a return of the Songs About Jane-era sound of Maroon 5; a welcomed surprise at first, before dragging on for an excruciating 11 and a half minutes of vamping which comes across as unnecessary as it is unimpressive.
Forgettable beyond belief and not much fun either, Red Pill Blues is symptomatic of an industry which increasingly values production, and pandering to the lowest common denominator, over actually writing a good song. Don’t waste your time.