“Who says I can’t get stoned?” The opening line of the first single “Who Says,” on John Mayer’s new Battle Studies, is an accurate portrayal of the album: Downbeat tones over scoff-worthy lyrics that you would only expect to be sung by a self-admitted douchebag.
The 11-track record starts off strong with “Heartbreak Warfare,” the male lyrical equivalent of Jordin Spark’s “Battlefield.” Mayer’s comparisons of a past relationship to an all-out war that includes “clouds of sulfur in the air” set the tone for the rest of the album as the war theme continues, especially in songs like “War of My Life” and “Assassin,” which sound like LFO’s (or Nicole Richie’s) “Dandelion.”
If battle imagery isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other goodies to keep you satisfied: “Half of My Heart” which “features” Taylor Swift (I put “features” in quotes because you can barely hear her) and the Cream cover “Crossroads.”
You’ll also catch his signature sentimental heart lyrics like, “Tore out my heart and shut it down” (“Perfectly Lonely”) and “I’ll be pouring tears / into your drying eyes” (“Friends, Lovers, or Nothing”). But don’t be fooled. Lines like “I don’t remember you looking any better / But then again I don’t remember you” (“Who Says”) and “I’ve seen your face somewhere … a past night love affair” (“Do You Know Me”) will make you rethink considering Mayer to be all heart, no asshole.
Whether he’s playing the sensitive lover or the heartless playa, Mayer once again delivers easy listening tunes, showcasing that he not only has matured since “Your Body Is a Wonderland” but also has mastered his role as class clown of the music industry.
Finals are coming up. Study up on Battle Studies.