John Mayer
Continuum


5.0
classic

Review

by Adam Knott EMERITUS
February 2nd, 2010 | 67 replies | 10,963 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Despite its lack of concept, Continuum's honest, blues-pop evaluations of truth, belief, war and love make for such a perfect and complete album from start to finish that its healing value is immense.

Lately it seems we can't keep ourselves from feeling tired. We're tired of headlines touting the world's next war-torn region; tired of the mundane realities that drag us back to difficult work after a weekend of drink and relaxation. We're tired of love and its endless pursuits, tired of loss and its inevitable victory, and most of all, we're tired of ourselves, the uncertainty of what we are and the fact it so rarely leaves us alone. No matter how the day plays out - tedious or blissful, effortless or tough - one thing always catches up. 2006's Continuum is, engraved on a compact disc, the antidote to a very real tiredness - a weary-eyed, hopeless state of near surrender. It treats all of the old enemies in a relatable and very human way, through songs which remain immediate but possess hidden attention to detail, and the result is one of the most heartwarming 50 minutes of music imaginable.

There are a million records more bouncy than Continuum, hundreds more joyous and a fair number less self-involved, but John Mayer's third studio album holds its weight not in a forced smile but in its honesty and ultimate optimism. To hype it as a concept record would be false; Continuum is without a doubt a collection of songs as opposed to an album with much artistic intent, and there's even a Hendrix cover, the resurgent 'Bold As Love', to round off the track listing with a bit of extra style. The way it is organised, though, renders it a record powerful enough to merit the 5 this review gives it; the quality of the songs seals the deal. Chilled-out and gently varied, these understated cuts are gems, each and every one of them.

As a guitarist Mayer more than knows his way around, as the 'Bold As Love' solo will demonstrate to any doubter, and one of the reasons this album so defiantly stands the test of time is the way its licks are instantly lovable but at the same time devilishly inconspicuous. Adopting a blues tone and a variety of mellow rhythms, the third quarter of songs never drift or become predictable as a result of prominent guitar work throughout, adorned frequently with subtle glockenspiel and piano. This musical backdrop is mixed perfectly so that Continuum never becomes a barrage of noise or overwhelming to relaxed senses, but also maintains its lounge vibe in a realistic manner. Realism is the cornerstone of everything Continuum does right. There may be greater lyricists than John Mayer - he writes, for the most part, about general difficulties and universal emotions - but very few could pen songs that fit the aforementioned musical niche more snugly, and his succinct, personal writing style is pivotal to the success of these tracks. There are a number of moments when he threatens cliché, but his sincerity and absence of melodrama bolt the ideas to the floor alongside the modest intricacy of his guitar lines. He tackles war, love, loss and general ennui in the most accessible of manners, but never comes across as dumbed-down, merely the most distilled form of social commentator you can imagine, and his credibility is earned, not through some pre-conception of his humility, but by his mild-mannered approach to the most volatile of subjects.

And it is here that it needs to be said: Continuum is not a revolutionary album. It reinvents no facet of what it adopts, it says nothing previously unsuggested and it is democratic where most important records choose anarchy. But these qualities, much as they are bound to provoke sneers, make it an album that always sees reason, no matter how the day plays out. As with pretty much every flawless record, Continuum needs to be experienced from top to bottom to make sense, although its songs are bound to find their way onto playlists and mixtapes with considerable impact. But the record's lasting effect stems from the way it passes through psychological states, at first questioning things, at its heart searching for answers and towards its close finding resolutions, all of them realistic. There are no sudden jolts in direction, no facades to break through whatsoever. Listening to Continuum from start to finish is like hearing John Mayer figure out why life isn't so bad over and over again, and as you listen you realise the same things he does. It's a healing process, intentional or not, that never fails to fix that tiredness, and as the short and optimistic closer fades out amidst picked guitars and rattling cymbals, the state of near-surrender vanishes, replaced by something calm and satisfying. A resolution, of sorts. And then life continues.



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user ratings (695)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Alex Getter (5)
Got a brand new blues that I can't explain....

Joe Costa (4.5)
Yeah, it's John Mayer. Now put aside your prejudices and listen to this beast. Continuum is pretty...

liljigga (5)
"The Mayer" is in the building! Before you criticize, you make a better album....

Alex Silveri EMERITUS (4.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
February 2nd 2010



10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Because I will one day have a full-length review for everything I have rated as a 5.

This was retardedly difficult to start but once I got past that and just started writing it was much easier than I was expecting. I tried not to name any songs other than Bold As Love, since I was worried about track-by-tracking an album that despite its lack of concept is so perfect from start to finish.

I don't expect everybody to agree on the rating but I do hope this will encourage some people to check this out if they haven't already done so. It's one of the most important albums I own.

AtavanHalen
February 2nd 2010



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is immense. Well done, sir.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 2nd 2010



17204 Comments


very nice.

thebhoy
Emeritus
February 2nd 2010



4459 Comments


was never a big fan of this guy. I mean, he's certainly talented but I've never got into him

tiesthatbind
February 2nd 2010



7373 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review. John Mayer is great.

DiceMan
February 2nd 2010



7068 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

If this actually sounds similar to The National then I'll try this out. Never heard any of his stuff anyways. Plus we usually have similar tastes when it comes to this type of stuff.

AtavanHalen
February 2nd 2010



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This doesn't sound like The National at all.

DiceMan
February 2nd 2010



7068 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Oh? Sad day. I must have misinterpreted the differences in our useage of the Reccomended By Reviewer section.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 2nd 2010



17204 Comments


more like bluesy soft-rock. still damn good though

ninjuice
February 2nd 2010



6760 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I fully support this review and I haven't even read it yet.

Edit: Read it, still do.

Also, I somewhat randomly read the recent Rolling Stone interview with this guy. Most of it was very 'wtf'.

Knott-
Emeritus
February 2nd 2010



10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yeah doesnt sound like the national just has a similar effect on me to boxer. loving the neg, probably the same person as adam's boxer review -_-

bluesy soft-rock is right. blues-pop i think i called it. review had too many 'understated's - fixed.

AggravatedYeti
February 3rd 2010



7684 Comments


I guess I should hear this sometime...

this dude is crazy talented, I've just always found his recordings blah.

but to be fair I've heard the singles, basically shit else, and this review is really good so -- you've convinced me!

YouAreMySilence
February 3rd 2010



3727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gravity is my favorite and the dude is crazy talented.
Would really call it a classic or really anything close..

Knott-
Emeritus
February 3rd 2010



10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you mean wouldn't?

meh i tried to justify it up there^ so im not gonna argue my case again :D it's a record that's picked me up about 73985239 times and still does

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
February 3rd 2010



23804 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Very nice review, definite pos. Who negged this?

Fantastic album too.

Douglas
February 3rd 2010



9093 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

The Heart of Life rules so hard.

Digging: James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical

BigHans
February 3rd 2010



26455 Comments


Great review. I thought I did ok with a Rob Zombie review yesterday and got completely blown off the page by you and Red Sky's Boxer review. Well done.

Ponton
Emeritus
February 3rd 2010



5790 Comments


Awesome review, very tempting.

Knott-
Emeritus
February 4th 2010



10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

never mind tempting if you ever feel shit this should be yr first port of call

IAmInsect
January 10th 2011



3800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album is so awesome



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