Rhyme&Review: Let’s get to whisper-singing

23 11 2009


Dude, it’s John Mayer, bro. He’s the guy with the guitar that does that whisper-singing stuff, you know? It’s like he’s singing, but he’s actually breathing words at you melodically. Whatever it is, it works, especially for the ladies. But that was a given since he’s made the Twilight look popular before the Twilight look existed, regardless of his singing abilities. (Look at the album cover, he’s so pale and brooding and loves to wear all sorts of jackets and such. Fawn.)

This is his fourth studio album, and his first since Continuum, which was an excellent collection of songs. I’m not going to call Continuum blues, because that genre doesn’t really exist in the mainstream anymore (think of it as more of songs with blues elements to them), but Continuum is about as close to blues as you’re going to get on the Billboard Hot 100.

Battle Studies

Oh John, tell me who hurt you so? Battle Studies I assume is a play off of when people compare love to war, or call love a battlefield, or say that love is like a Panzer tank flanking your platoon to the north. They don’t say that? Are you sure? Either way, nearly every song on here has some sort of somber, woe is me, “why doth my lady haveth to leaveth me” feel to it.

It’s a little tedious. Honestly, I don’t really want to listen to an hour of John Mayer feeling his own feelings in all of his songs. I want to feel my own feelings John! I don’t have time for yours. But even with his whisper-whining, that isn’t what ultimately is what makes this album forgettable. John Mayer subjected himself to the Evolver Mistake.

The Evolver Mistake comes from John Legend‘s album Evolver. Coming off the heels of his most well-received album Once Again, Legend essentially took everything that made that album successful and ditched it for a new sound. That new sound, the one heard on Evolver, was exponentially worse than what he had done before. Thus the Evolver Mistake was born.

There’s nothing wrong with re-inventing yourself as a musician. It’s a gamble, but if it pays off it often has huge critical and commercial benefits for said musician. HOWEVER, it’s also extremely risky, because you could end up making a turd of an album when comparing it to your previous catalog. Not to say that Evolver was a turd, it just was a turd when compared to Once Again. And guess what Mr. Mayer, Battle Studies is a turd compared to Continuum.

Sure, there are some decent tracks. “Heartbreak Warfare” is straight. “Friends, Lovers or Nothing” is a good concept. Everyone loves Taylor Swift, so “Half of my Heart” will probably be well-received, especially with people who watch CMT. But the album’s sound just isn’t really working for me. You’ve got electronic elements, country elements, you’re all over the map here Johnny boy. That was the beauty of Continuum, you picked a sonic theme and you stuck with it. It was good. This? Not so much.

So Now What?

Great question. I have no idea. In my loose social circles, you’re name was a very polarizing one. Some people loved you, but more often than not most people either were of neutral opinion or thought you were all sorts of busted. This isn’t going to help you gain fans.

Considering that Room For Squares and Heavier Things weren’t anywhere near the quality of Continuum, and Battle Studies sounds more like those two albums, it’s time to start wondering how good of a musician you really are. Sure, you can knock out some hits, but consistency is what separates the best from the rest.

The good from the bad and the ugly.

The zeroes from the heroes.

I’ll be here all week.

John Mayer – Battle Studies

1. Heartbreak Warfare – ★★★
2. All We Ever Do is Say Goodbye – ★★★
3. Half of my Heart (with Taylor Swift) – ★★★
4. Who Says – ★★★
5. Perfectly Lonely – ★★★
6. Assassin –
7. Crossroads –
8. War of my Life –
9. Edge of Desire – ★★★
10. Do You Know Me – ★★★
11. Friends, Lovers or Nothing – ★★★

Battle Studies Total ★: 24
Battle Studies ★ Ration: 2.18




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: