a realistic dose of cynicism

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battle studies

above: JM’s “modest” songwriting rig.

been listening to the new John Mayer album, Battle Studies, for almost three days straight now.

the good:

  • 1. Heartbreak Warfare (presumably the inspiration for the album title. Reminiscent of U2. Standout vocals and accompaniment; single material.)
  • 2. All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye (Returning to a bit of a jazzier sound. Continuum fans: right here.)
  • 3. Half Of My Heart feat. Taylor Swift (pure lyrical genius…but needs more tay-sway. might get a little repetitive, but the lyrics make up for it.)
  • 4. Who Says (maybe a little irreverent. but that’s okay. Incredible guitar skill showcase though.)
  • 7. Crossroads (it’s a cover, but I really enjoy it. It’s a completely different side of Mayer. but to be honest my favorite part of the song is the extended bridge. pure love.)
  • 9. Edge of Desire (pretty classic-sounding Mayer.)
  • 11. Friends, Lovers, or Nothing (okay this is pretty reminiscent of Continuum—it’s a song that can remain true throughout the ages. Do like.)

the mediocre:

  • 6. Assassin (it’s okay. it’s got this mysterious feel to it, which probably indicates that the lyrics go very well with the instrumentation.)
  • 8. War Of My Life (it sounds very chill. but also kinda monotonous.)
  • 10. Do You Know Me (doesn’t sound like anything special to me.)

the bad:

  • 5. Perfectly Lonely (it really sounds like he tried way too hard; to make it sound carefree, to convince us that he’s perfectly lonely. the whole thing comes off as kind of pompous.)

So make no mistake, Mayer sounds a lot poppier here. None of the jazz/bluesy sound that propelled Continuum to great heights.

so it’s no Continuum. you won’t find it here (although you’ll find what you’re looking for in All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye, Edge of Desire, and Friends, Lovers, or Nothing. but it’s still a good album in its own right, showing conceptual growth, increasing musical depth, and progression.

Each Mayer album seems to be slightly, if not strikingly, different from its predecessor. Much like Heavier Things changed the game from Room For Squares, and Continuum for Heavier Things, Mayer takes it in a new direction…

and to be honest I kinda like it.

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