Rock music, that bastion of the angstful and testosteroned, has seldom had a frontman as unconcerned with grit or subtext as Adam Levine. He is the genre’s lite-funky Romeo, a man whose musical topics of interest seem to begin and end with sexy ladies: loving them, losing them, and then, invariably, finding a rubber-band bass line to ride on to the next one.
Much has been made of Hands All Over, the band’s third studio album in eight years, being produced by Mutt Lange — the reclusive, choosy maestro behind multiplatinum monsters like Def Leppard’s Hysteria and then wife Shania Twain’s Come On Over. But Leppard-spotted title track aside, there’s not much evidence of his impact here. First single and album opener ”Misery” is boilerplate Maroon, a falsettoed lark whose Tigger-ish bounce blithely defies its tormented title.
Levine’s romantic roundelay trundles on, through airy disco-boogie (”Give a Little More,” ”Get Back in My Life”), retro-funk squiggle (”Stutter,” ”Don’t Know Nothing”), and Train-ish midrange balladry (”Never Gonna Leave This Bed,” ”How”). Though the band’s obvious influences — Hall & Oates, Jamiroquai, early Prince — serve them well enough, what shadows Hands most is its own creators’ earlier, more immediate stuff. Whatever havoc the titular minx of 2002’s Songs About Jane wreaked, at least it yielded ”This Love.” Hands, competent and studio-sleek as it is, too often begs for a fresher muse. C+