Review Summary: John Mayer returns with a solid yet unspectacular first wave in his very own Search for Everything.
When John Mayer tweeted last year that he was recording a new album with the same guys he wrote and recorded his fantastic (and yet to be bested) 2006 album Continuum, expectations were obviously high. After a two album foray into country and folk which garnered mixed results, it seemed the next album would look back to his more bluesy sound. However, instead of a full album, Mayer announced he would be releasing his next full-length, The Search for Everything, in four song batches once a month, starting with wave one on the 20th of January.
Opening with Moving On and Getting Over, the first wave gets off to a strong start. Doubled up vocals create nice harmonies throughout the entire track, whilst the verse features a hook where the music and vocals syncopate in a stop start motion that accentuates every word. Instrumentally the song is relatively simple, with the bass in particular shining with little runs, and the song benefits from a lack of flashy guitar parts, instead relying simply on good song writing.
Following this is Changing, which is the weakest track on the release. It opens with a solo piano and Mayer's vocals, before opening up with an acoustic guitar and the full band. A solo cuts in after two minutes and the solo itself feels fairly grand and important, but it feels a little disjointed from the rest of the song, which can feel a little plodding and uninteresting.
The third track is lead single Love on the Weekend, a love struck ode to the start of a new relationship. The track features a lot of reverb on the lead guitar that creates a washy ocean vibe, conjuring images of palm trees, sunny days and coastal drives. Lyrically meanwhile, Mayer keeps it simple yet effective as he sings; "And I'll be dreaming of the next time we can go, into another serotonin overflow. Love on the weekend, love on the weekend." It's a great pop single which would have definitely been at home on 2009's Battle Studies.
The final song is titled "You're Gonna Live forever In Me", and it ends the first wave on a high note. Opening with a piano and Mayer whistling, the tone is set. When Mayer starts singing, it's far more soothing than anything we have heard previously, although he does sound a little too close to Coldplay's Chris Martin for comfort, whilst the whistling and instrumentation make this song seem destined to soundtrack a Pixar film. Lyrically the song starts as an ode to a loved one, before a sharp turn sees Mayer sing the following; "And when the pastor asks the pews for reasons he can't marry you, I'll keep my word in my seat. But you're gonna live forever in me, I'll guarantee, just wait and see." It's an unexpected turn before the song fades out that gives an otherwise overly cute song a little edge.
It's early, but it seems The Search For Everything is going to be more varied than some of his more recent albums, with the styles of Continuum, Battle Studies and Born & Raised all hinted at here. We still don't know how many songs are part of this release, anything from 10 to 40, and there are bound to be hits and misses along the way, but the first wave is a solid yet unspectacular start.