New Maroon 5 album: 'Time for pop, not protest songs'

Adam Levine (left) and James Valentine of Maroon 5 pose for pictures in New York ahead of the launch of their new album. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Tensions may be mounting dangerously around the world but for Maroon 5, this isn't the time for protest songs - it's time to dance.

On Nov 3, the chart-topping pop-rockers release their sixth studio album, Red Pill Blues, a collection of toe-tapping, funk-inflected tracks that mine the emotional drama of human relationships.

Frontman Adam Levine was unapologetic about not joining the growing number of pop stars who are getting political on their 2017 albums, saying he can count on one hand the number of protest songs he found successful.

"I can tell you right now that every songwriter that just sat down and said: 'I'm going to write a song that is going to change the world,' probably did not do that," Levine, lounging deeply in his chair, told AFP in a New York hotel suite.

The 38-year-old singer - who has become an even bigger presence in US pop culture as a coach on television talent show The Voice - is not afraid of expressing his political views. He has taken to social media to criticise US President Donald Trump and has been a longtime champion of gay rights.

But he said: "I think that pop music has a level of sophistication that sometimes goes undetected.

"Releasing the right kind of songs at the right times is an extremely important and underappreciated art form."

Through its title, Red Pill Blues offers subtle commentary on the current moment. The imagery comes from sci-fi cult classic The Matrix, whose protagonist is offered a choice between the "red pill" of knowledge and the "blue pill" of ignorance.

People today are "reluctantly informed - sometimes incorrectly informed - but I think there is a lot of reality rearing its ugly head," Levine said.

The album marks a further push into studio effects by Maroon 5, who achieved global triumphs with soulish soft pop songs such as She Will Be Loved and energetic dance numbers such as Moves Like Jagger. On Red Pill Blues, Maroon 5 lets minimal if melodic keyboards take the lead on tracks such as Best 4 U, Plastic Rose and the early singles Don't Wanna Know and What Lovers Do. The album also sees Maroon 5 collaborating with top stars of the moment, including rappers Kendrick Lamar and Future and singers SZA and Julia Michaels.

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