John Mayer is back.
God, it feels good to write those words.
After three years of studio incubation, Mayer returned Friday with Wave One, the first installment of his seventh studio album, “The Search For Everything.”
Following a trend of unconventional album releases by prominent artists such as Rihanna and Beyoncé, Mayer will release his opus four songs at a time.
As it stands now the “The Search For Everything” is 14 minutes long. That’s not enough time to cross campus, let alone to form a substantial opinion on this album.
It is ample time, however, to dissect each song, as I was instantly compelled to do when the album dropped. After four days of living inside “The Search For Everything,” here’s what I, a Mayer zealot, can say thus far.
“Love On The Weekend”
The wholly underwhelming debut single is included in the first wave of “The Search for Everything” so really, it’s only three new songs we’re getting in this installment. It’s more of the quintessential Mayer pop you hear playing in department stores and chain restaurants. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Mayer said he wrote “Love On The Weekend” with the fervor of “all the best songs [he’s] ever written."
The result is enthusiastic, but ultimately underwhelming. Initially, this song left me concerned about the album’s ability to meet its ridiculously inflated expectations. However, it works better in the album than it does as a standalone.
Mayer referred to “Changing” as “the spiritual centerpiece of the album.” For those anticipating a bust-out Mayer guitar solo, this is your Wave One hit. This song exemplifies how the stories behind the tracks on “Search” are just as important as the tracks. To explore “Search” is to explore Mayer, and that expedition begins with “Changing.”
“Moving On and Getting Over”
Depending on which Mayer you prefer — the innovative blues musician or the emotive lyricist — this may be your Wave One favorite. It’s an R&B groove that results in irresistible head-bobbing, with a novel, syncopated hook that will stick in your head. It’s reminiscent of Mayer’s collaboration with David LaBruyere, “Broken Time,” which is a reference only a pretentious Mayer fanatic could make.
“You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me”
The other candidate for Wave One favorite, “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me,” bears beautiful resemblance in score and title to Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” The inimitable recording showcases Mayer in a raw state of emotion, rather than “intellectualizing” the emotion, as is his wonted approach to vocals. “What you hear on the song is the original take,” he told Rolling Stone. “I couldn’t sing the vocals again if I tried.”
“The Search For Everything” isn’t an abstract title. It’s an apt label for a raw, genuine endeavor by a man striving to make his mark as an artist, but for Mayer, who already won a Grammy for his vocal performance in “Continuum,” the bar is set, and it is in the clouds.
After years of experimenting outside the realm of mainstream music with albums such as “Born and Raised” and “Paradise Valley,” Mayer has returned to the commercial stage equipped with an arsenal of influences he hopes will add “that much more depth” to his records.
“Search” represents his culmination as an artist. It’s an aspiring greatest hits album, with Mayer making up the hits as he goes.
Ultimately “The Search For Everything” represents an artist putting himself at stake, and, much like the search for everything, it is both beautiful and terrifying.
I agree to join Mayer on his search.
I hope you’ll join me.