John Mayer
Battle Studies


4.0
excellent

Review

by Steven McMahan USER (49 Reviews)
November 16th, 2009 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An excellent pop album that serves as a melting pot of Mayer’s previous work.

How does one follow up an album like Continuum? I know few people agree that it's one of the best pop albums of the decade, but Continuum was an extremely pleasant surprise. With it, Mayer perfectly blended his masterful pop songwriting with the strong blues influence of his inspirations. The fact that he admitted to “stealing” from others (“Eric Clapton knows I steal from him and is still fine with it”) meant the album was a conscious effort to emulate greatness, and the results were amazing.

So really, the only place to go from a career high is down. That still means that Battle Studies can be great, however, and it is. Mayer’s fourth is a melting pot of all his previous work, returning to the acoustic pop of his first two albums while retaining the style of Continuum on about most of the tracks.

Push play, and you’ll probably be fooled into thinking it could be an underwhelming record. “Heartbreak Warfare” is a strong opener, but it doesn’t quite match either “Clarity” or “Waiting on the World to Change”. “All We Ever Do is Say Goodbye” starts out good, only to scream “lack of ideas” when the chorus is repeated well beyond the point of annoyance. It's not until "Half of My Heart" comes in that the album really takes off. Possessing a slight country tone, it's a perfect blend of Mayer's past work into an excellent pop song, and guest vocals from Taylor Swift confirm he's still interested in working with artists outside his immediate genre territory.

From there, Battle Studies makes its case for one of the year’s best pop albums (or even albums in general). The entire first half (save for the aforementioned “All We Ever Do…”) combines the catchy hooks and Mayer’s wonderful voice with a slight blues tone via – you guessed it - his wonderful guitar parts, and at least three of them are among his best work. “Who Says” recalls the completely stripped nature of “Daughters” – complete with similar single treatment - and the (somewhat surprising) cover of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” feels almost as natural as his rendition of “Bold as Love”. While the album is somewhat heavy in front, the remaining set of songs round out an already fine package.

Ultimately, Battle Studies is quite unlikely to change your opinion of John Mayer. Fans will love it, detractors will hate it, some will call it unimpressive, and Eric Clapton worshippers will likely (somewhat ignorantly) cry “ripoff” once again. Though not as cohesive or consistent(ly amazing) as Continuum, it’s another entry in a pretty interesting discography. Mayer has found a formula that works, and his track record is any indication, we can expect plenty of other great things to come from him. For now, Battle Studies serves as proof he’s not content to do the same thing twice.



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user ratings (326)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Tom Gellatly (4)
    Mayer's most laid-back and easygoing album yet. It doesn't quite reach the heights of his ...

    David James Young (4)
    At ease, soldier....

    zack cutts (4)
    Battle Studies seems to be an album that calls for a fully devoted relationship. Songs lik...

    Alex Silveri EMERITUS (3.5)
    or, John Mayer’s Eleven Reflections On The Theme Of Love, Performed In The Key Of Starry...

  • kingmchris (3)
    Heavier things have been accomplished than a decent follow up to Continuum, sadly Mayer dr...


Comments:Add a Comment 
ninjuice
November 17th 2009


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Subtract .5 if you gave Continuum a 4. I guess I should add a fanboy alert too.

Alex’s will come along soon and certainly destroy mine.

SeaAnemone
November 17th 2009


20555 Comments


nice review... I should listen to this guy some... I love his singles I've heard for the most part. This sounds like a good starting spot. pos'd.

Digging: Dirty Beaches - Stateless

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2009


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Half of My Heart is amazing

ninjuice
November 17th 2009


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Continuum is better, but obviously I think this is great too, and they sound fairly similar so starting with either works.

SeaAnemone
November 17th 2009


20555 Comments


he looks pretty badass on the cover.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2009


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

listening now, it's great so far

ninjuice
November 17th 2009


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

he looks pretty badass on the cover.

Dude's pretty funny too.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_z-shZL1KU

AtavanHalen
November 17th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Video is awesome; can't wait to buy this.

Waior
November 17th 2009


11460 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Should be good.

YouAreMySilence
November 17th 2009


3727 Comments


Stoked for this. Anything less than a 4 will be a disappointment.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2009


17222 Comments


getting now. cover looks like he's trying to be morrissey

Douglas
November 17th 2009


9118 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Must get now

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
November 17th 2009


23909 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Crossroads covers are very rarely bad, same goes for the albums on which they're found. I shall check this out. Stellar review, have a pos.

Digging: RATKING - So It Goes

Knott-
Emeritus
November 17th 2009


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

NEED TO HEAR

dub sean
November 17th 2009


980 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I have a man crush on John Mayer.

MaskAtTheMasquerade
November 17th 2009


2887 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

how can't people listen to this

mvdu
November 17th 2009


606 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

pos'd; excellent review ninjuice. Funny though because I'm neither a huge fan nor a detractor: I'd give RFS 4/5, HT 3, CT 3, and Battle Studies 3.5/5

mvdu
November 17th 2009


606 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Actually I have Heavier Things at 2.5; won't change it unless I hear it again.

PuddlesPuddles
November 17th 2009


4784 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

< 3 john

tiesthatbind
January 10th 2010


7377 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not quite as good as Continuum but solid album nonetheless.

Digging: Poets of the Fall - Signs of Life



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