ak10, on november 13, 2009 5 of 8 people found this review helpful
Sound: Going from the sensitive singer/songwriter to the cover of Rolling Stone's Guitar God magazine, John Mayer has always had a wide variety of sounds. John has been quoted as saying "I like the idea that people can not always make up their mind about me." With that in mind comes "Battle Studies," due out on November 17. In a lot of ways a departure from either of the normal John Mayer sounds we have gotten accustomed to. In his own words, he wanted this album to have a "60s or 70s medolic California rock" sound, alla Fleetwood Mac. Whether you were a fan of his pop sound or his blues sound, "Battle Studies" should give you what you are looking for. Still plenty of riffy guitar work all over the record with extended solos on virtually every song, and a wider variety of guitar tones than seen on previous albums. If I have to narrowly classify the overall sound of the record I would say it is a R&B/Soul album with a lot of lead guitar riffs. // 10
Lyrics: John Mayer lyrics are usually some of the best around with him always being a master of the methapor and abstract interpretations. However, I have to only give the lyrical content a 7/10 on Battle Studies, he loses a lot of points for the self-indulgent, trying to hard feel to the lyrical content of the single "Who Says." The song "All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye" has a nice bittersweet sound to it, but the lyrics gets stuck in their own perpetual loop of the song title. However, those are really the only two negative spots on the album lyrically; the other 9 songs are more along the lines of the quality you would expect John's 4th studio album to have. Assassin, Edge of Desire, Perfectly Lonely, Half of My Heart, and Friends Lovers or Nothing are the best songs for lyrics on the album. // 7
Overall Impression: This isn't a blues album. People looking for the next Continuum or Try may be disappointed, but overall this is a very mature album that evolves out of all of John's musical incarnations. The best song on the album, in my opinion, is Assassin. Edge of Desire is a close second, delivering a very different style of song then he has ever made; it almost has a Radiohead style quality to it. The cover of Cream's "Crossroads," while it does contain a great solo and plenty of sweet riffs that guitarist will be dining out on for month, falls short in the end due in large part to the over produced feel of the stacked vocals. Conversely, look for a very great cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire" available exclusively on iTunes when you preorder this album. Overall, "Battle Studies" is a very good album that John Mayer fans with undoubtedly love and hate, as you would come to expect from an artist who is not easily definable. // 8
James Chai, on november 18, 2009 2 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: Modern blues guitarist, soothing pop vocals, Jennifer Aniston, Twitter. Which one of these doesn't remind you of John Mayer? And thanks to Twitter, 2.5 mil followers will notice the preparation of the new album--Battle Studies.
As profound as the theme, the music in this album doesn't show much of a guitarist characteristic. By saying that, that doesn't mean it does not contain awe-inspiring music. The affinity of the album cover, has its value within. The music you hear will not be a track where you will get an impression just listening to it once. Every single track is worth discovering, and acknowledging.
"Half Of My Heart" and "Who says" seemed like the only tunes heavy with the acoustic guitar, but not losing its simplicity of the melodic guitar strings of John's. Something we've been familiar with after John came to the music scene for quite some time.
Align with the war theme "War Of My Life" and "Heartbreak Warfare" pretty similar and different in many ways. "Heartbreak Warfare" burst with a Passion Pit inspired electronic feel and incarnated with a muddy guitar solo. Though, the song loses its greatness for some time in my liking but the guitar solo is still very unique.
"War Of My Life is not a stand out from this album just the words in the songs comes perfectly with the music. Mediocre tune but very touching life struggles rung. "Edge of Desire" is one of my favorites from Battle Studies. I got to admit that the music wasn't much catchy, but when the vocals and the guitar solo came it, it just came to head and teased my persistence to not continue listening.
"Do You Know Me" and "All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye" are both a mixture of nice, calmed lullaby with soulful pop vocals. These two songs marked the improvement of John's vocal skils since the first 3 albums.
"Perfectly Lonely" assembles another kind of catchy guitar riffs and fun, energetic bounce throughout the song. The guitar playing was much more obvious in this track compared to others. "Friends, Lovers or Nothing", an important relationship lesson, started with a stupendous shuddery echoed piano part, which widens our ear range at first, but then contradicts with the main riff that came in seconds later. A love hate song to be fair.
A cover of Cream, and the late Robert Johnson, "Crossroads" showed the new guitar tune that John ought to present to the globe from this album. The fuzzy, muddy and harsh tone changed the whole phase of guitar playing. Many might not raise their hands to consensus that this was a right move in this album, but I will give this a definite and distinct praise.
Lastly, my utmost favorite track is none other than the moody, silky song "Assassin". The more times I listened to it, the more I fell into the actual "situation" John pictured it to be in his lyrics. The metaphoric storyline makes you want to know what's next and makes you curios and want to stay until you see what happened in the end. The brilliant opening lyrics, invites you into the plot after the Japanese-like sound effect at the beginning. // 8
Lyrics: John Mayer has been known as a sought-after singer-songwriter muso for years to be recognized. This album is no exception. From lyrics that raised eyebrows on "Who Says", to the heart warming track "Edge Of Desire" that showed a lot of frustrations and simple solution to relationships. My favorite of all will still be "Assassin" as every word matches the song really well. If the music doesn't impress you with this album, his lyrics are still at the top notch. Really, really inspiring and true. // 10
Overall Impression: After the giant leap John Mayer had from "Heavier Things" to "Continuum". This fourth album marked a new status for modern music. He introduced a new kind of fuzzy guitar tone that made suitable for songs, and somewhat acceptable. He didn't only showed that these are the music our future generation might be hung up to, but also the reincarnation on 70's and 80's rock inspired tunes. The audacious attempt of Mayer's to try to experiment something organic and new is definitely what musician these days should take a bite at.
As always, his albums are about a rejuvenation of new ideas and fresh new whims to allow the others to interpret and make it their own. John Mayer pointed out that this album is an "experimental, melodic album but not losing the trace of simplicity". At least, this dude still knows what he's doing. If Continuum deserves a 9/10, Battle Studies is definitely a 8/10. A must try.
My personal countdown, enjoy:
03. Perfectly Lonely
04. Edge Of Desire
05. Half Of my Heart
06. Who Says
07. Friends, Lovers or Nothing
08. War Of My Life
09. All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye
10. Do you Know Me
11. Heartbreak Warfare
Cheers. // 8