Maroon 5’s 2002 debut album, Songs About Jane, was the kind of hit that doesn’t happen often in the new millennium — a genuine word-of-mouth hit whose popularity grew steadily after its release, largely due to the sweet, sunny hit “This Love,” a song sly and catchy enough to stay on the adult pop charts for years without wearing out its welcome.
It Won’t Be Soon Before Long appeals to both audiences with an ease that seems effortless, but like any modern blockbuster, this album was shepherded by several different teams of producers, all brought in to emphasize a different personality within the group. The bulk of the record was cut with Spike Stent and Mike Elizondo — Stent worked with U2, Oasis, Björk, and Gwen Stefani, while Elizondo had produced Fiona Apple and Pink — but Queens of the Stone Age producer Eric Valentine was brought in for a couple of cuts, as was Mark Endert, who mixed “This Love.” There may have been three different sets of producers, but the album is streamlined and seamless, never seeming calculated even if it was clearly made with an eye on mass appeal.
Even the flashiest production-driven tracks here — the opening one-two punch of “If I Never See Your Face Again” and “Makes Me Wonder” — aren’t about feel; they’re about the songs, which are uniformly tight and tuneful, sounding better with repeated plays, the way any radio-oriented pop should. If some of the ballads aren’t as distinguished as the livelier tracks, they nevertheless are as sharply crafted as the rest, and the end result is that It Won’t Be Soon Before Long is that rare self-stylized blockbuster album that sounds as big and satisfying as was intended.