The musician is on the charm offensive, but lacks any charm on his seventh LP
John Mayer is a problematic favourite.
He's probably the guy that leaves you on 'read', doesn't reply for days, but reels you back in with the way he leans against things nonchalantly or over-enunciates the syllables of your name.
Tumultuous personal life and numerous questionable statements aside, he's produced some mega hits in the past. On 'The Search For Everything', he's on the hunt for more - to no avail.
It could be debated that the primary reason for the disappointment surrounding Mayer's seventh LP isn't the quality of the content, but rather how it was delivered.
Having begun work on the record in 2014, and subsequently wrapping up the process this year, Mayer decided the only appropriate way to release the album was in 'waves' - effectively splitting the album in three.
Following the trend of unconventional album releases, for example Kanye West's 'living' album 'The Life Of Pablo' and Frank Ocean's visual album 'Endless', it was an intriguing concept that fell flat upon realisation. By the time the third 'wave' came around, nobody really cared. What was a an extra month or two of promo for Mayer was a long, tired ride for fans.
'The Search For Everything's core singles are pleasantly bland - Love On The Weekend leans on the same twee-ness that Ed Sheeran has built a career on, while Still Feel Like Your Man serves its purpose as tabloid fodder (it's about Katy Perry FYI). Altogether, it sounds contrived - Mayer singing about how he still keeps her shampoo in his shower would warrant a shudder from even the most dedicated of fans.
It's this try-hard, 'I can do anything' attitude that sees Mayer attempting to drag his sound into the modern day, kicking and screaming. Emoji Of A Wave - a sweet enough ballad - shoots itself in the foot by being the most unfortunately titled track of 2017. His inability to separate the man for the music makes track after track. Even his tweets in the run up this record screamed 'validate me! I'm still relevant!'
Imagine a rap video in a hangar filled with exotic cars but within them is a 2001 Honda Accord and the song is called “Whose Car is This?”— John Mayer (@JohnMayer) March 22, 2017
And when he's not trying unbearably hard, he's not trying at all - You're Gonna Live Forever In Me is ripped straight from the pages of 'Writing A Gary Newman Song For Dummies'.
His core trio - including longtime D’Angelo bassist Pino Palladino and veteran studio drummer Steve Jordan - give the album the little groove it boasts. Helpless, featuring uncredited vocals from Tiffany Palmer, is Mayer at his musical best, anchored by the slick rhythm of his cohorts.
Similarly, In The Blood is a song that Mayer has undoubtedly had in for him a very long time.
Glimmers of this sincere, frank writing were exposed on previous records 'Continuum' and 'Born And Raised', but here is where he is most clear in outlining his own insecurities: "how much of my mother has my mother left in me?"
'The Search For Everything' is at best, fine - at worst, unremarkable. Having flexed his dexterity by dabbling in country music on 'Born And Raised' and 'Paradise Valley', it's hard to stomach John Mayer's complete dismissal of the lessons he learned on either of those records.
For example, the narrative presented of 'notorious Hollywood Lothario' is a well worn yarn - there's only so many times you can hear someone sing about the women that are throwing themselves at them. 'The Search For Everything' yields no new results for Mayer, and certainly not for the listener.
'The Search for Everything' by John Mayer is available everywhere now.