Maroon 5â€™s remix album, Call and Response, is (in concept) very cool. There are various artists remixing M5 songs, with widely differing backgrounds. From Pharell to the Cool Kids; DJ Quik to Deerhoof, you get some serious hip hop credibility fused with indie style. Throw a little Mary J. Blige and Rihanna vocals on top of the already talented pool, and the end result is a surprisingly strong collaboration. Again, in concept- very cool. In practice? Wellâ€¦
There are only a few dogs on this album, and really, even those arenâ€™t horrible. Theyâ€™re just kind of there. With 18 songs, you canâ€™t expect all to leave you breathless, but the under achievers come from surprising sources:
Pharrell Williams produces a decent version of â€œShe Will Be Loved,â€ but thatâ€™s the thingâ€¦ itâ€™s just decent. The same bland backing threads throughout the song, and Williams never really takes any chances that would make this remix more than just good. You wonâ€™t hate it, but you wonâ€™t be burning it onto a mixtape for your girlfriend either.
Same thing with "This Love" (C. Tricky Stewart). The electrobeat is interesting for a few moments, but the repetitive nature of the song and the lack of imagination kind of wear on the listener. It also ends in a fade, which always feels lazy.
The album ultimately has about five of these similarly constructed, self congratulatory house versions of the original that youâ€™ll weed through fairly quickly. Die-hard fans may appreciate the subtle differences between the remix and original, but I donâ€™t think the casual listener will be able to muster much excitement for them.
The Pretty Darn Cool
The majority of the album is comprised of â€œhey, this is pretty coolâ€ songs. These are your doubles in baseball, your B+ on a difficult test, your Will Farrell movies. I really like the funkiness & bell-beats of Swizz Beatzâ€™s â€œIf I Never See Your Face Again,â€ and Just Blazeâ€™s â€œMakes Me Wonderâ€ has a hard hitting, dark tone that delivers an entirely new feel to M5â€™s original. Itâ€™s very good. The Cool Kidsâ€™ strike a similar tone with â€œHarder To Breathâ€ by adding a chilly little bass line and rap sequence that feel at home in the context of the lyrics. The album is littered with these types of songsâ€¦ solid and respectable efforts that youâ€™ll digest over & over again.
The Totally Awesome.
So, saying all of that, there are some straight up mind blowing tracks on this album. Seriouslyâ€¦ danceable, original, powerful, awesome tracks.
Bloodshy/Avant's hits an absolute home run with his delivery of â€œLittle of Your Time.â€ This remix fully captures the power of the original, but has enough new hooks, loops, and beats to keep you on the edge of your seat. Itâ€™s fantastic.
Additionally, Ali Shaheed Muhammad serves an impressive spin on â€œBetter That We Break,â€ which (yeah, Iâ€™m gonna say it), is how the original should have been written. Muhammad presents a bass heavy, flowing beat that serves the emotion of the lyrics well (â€œNot waking up is hard to do. Sleepingâ€™s impossible too, and everythingâ€™s reminding me of you.â€). Itâ€™s smooth and subtle, but the music has purpose, and isnâ€™t just presented as a backwash to superior lyrics. The music and vocals stand together and present a version that drips with soul.
The crown jewel of this album is surely Paul Oakenfoldâ€™s â€œIf I Never See You Again,â€ which will shortly become a club staple across the country. The song shakes the rafters with a killer backbeat and stellar delivery from both Levine and Rihanna. The remix stands upright on its haunches and hands you everything youâ€™d want from a remix: enough of the original to satisfy die hard fans, but plenty of surprises (including a hefty dose of Euroclub) to entertain a new listener. Love all seven minutes of it.
Overall Call and Response is a strong remix album that provides over a dozen good songs. True Maroon 5 fans will own and cherish everything on the album, and even casual fans should strongly consider making the purchase. Ultimately, the hum drum yawners pull down my final score, but the breadth of good songs and the few spectacularly crafted remixes end up giving the album a respectable score.