REVIEW: battle studies – john mayer

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first of all, i must tell you that i am not 100% comfortable putting a photo of this album artwork on my blog. john looks super GQ and super lame. however, the artwork actually ended up being a blessing – when i first saw the cover a few months before its release i thought, “seriously john? this album is gonna suck.”

but it doesn’t. not at all. and i will yet again claim that low expectations are a much healthier way of living than high expectations. high expectations can only be met or not met*. low expectations can be met or exceeded…and my expecations were exceeded.

* – obviously there are a few outlying exceptions here: kanye’s graduation, my trip to st louis, harry potter and the deathly hallows, etc.

i told my buddy jon yesterday via a text, “this album has a heavier things feel to it.” and i stand by that statement…kind of. the album as a whole gives that vibe, but there are a few tracks – who says, friends lovers or nothing, assassin – that don’t necessarily fit the bill. did john mayer truly reinvent his sound on this album like he has with each of his albums in the past? not really. if anything he took a step backwards from continuum and revisited a sound he’d already dabbled in before.

that having been said – this is a terrific album. really terrific. especially if you can empathize with mayer’s jilted-lover theme (which i cannot). literally every song on this album is about girl problems – the “Battle Studies” he alludes to in the name of this album makes complete sense – he takes a look at the different “battles” the heart faces in dealing with the opposite sex. it’s a “love is war” theme. examples: “half of my heart” deals with the inability to commit, “heartbreak warfare” deals with what it feels like to be dumped, “perfectly lonely” is all about the freedom felt without a significant other, “friends lovers or nothing” is a great picture of the extremely common “more than friends?/lets have a DTR” situation of which i’m duly familiar with.

that last paragraph was so long that my coffee went cold. crap.

however, there are a couple songs that could’ve been omitted and i wouldn’t’ve really missed them. i can hear you arguing, “but adam – that means there would only be 9 songs! that’s not enough for a full album!” my rebuttal: Thriller.

“edge of desire” does nothing for me – i’m just bored/annoyed throughout. and “half of my heart” doesn’t impress me either – but that’s probably because i sit there for the first 2 minutes dreading the impending taylor swift on backup vocals. what a ploy to 1. sell more records 2. reach a slightly different genre 3. perhaps get invited to the country music awards next year. i just wish it wasn’t her. anyone else…okay not anyone – i would also veto nelly furtado, lady gaga, fergie or sheryl crow. anyone else though.

that having been said, “friends lovers or nothing” is my favorite track on the album. it’s on repeat as i type this blog. it is perfect – the first two piano chords hooked me and the rest of the song just continued to reel me in…that’s a fishing analogy.

i love this album, but it’s definitely not his best. in fact, it might be his worst. it’s not as good as continuum. or room for squares even. but it’s still john mayer. so it automatically lands in the “great” category. he’s just a phenomenal musician. period.

i give it a 3/5.

-ap.

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