Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

John Mayer – New Light

Hard to follow up Mitski, isn’t it?


Juan F. Carruyo : John Mayer is a cold, calculating technician, so for his latest trick he tries to summon some sweet ’80s soft rock vibes. Never mind that he’s been soft since his debut — his biggest problem is that for all his gifts as a journeyman guitar-slinging hit-maker, his moves seem received, not internalized. I do wonder how can he coax so little joy from his own music, yet he sounds so ecstatic when he’s pretending he’s Jerry Garcia. Maybe get Michael McDonald for the next one. 

Alfred Soto: I’m supposed to feel grateful that this pucker-lipped scoundrel uses Linn drums and a Mirage-era Fleetwood Mac rhythm but can play guitar better than the Haim sisters. 

Ian Mathers: Whether or not every generation needs its own soft rockers or not, they’re certainly going to fucking get them, and to be fair to Mayer there’s some little touches in the production here that seem promising. There’s no excusing a line like “pushing 40 in the friend zone,” though, whether he means age or speed. I don’t doubt his sincerity, or even his talent, just his judgment (although not in regards to the video, which whether or not it’s to your taste is a perfectly reasonable register to make a music video in the year of our lord 2018). The rest of the song never quite sinks to the depths of that line, but it also never quite gets as dentist’s-office-enjoyable as something like “Still Feel Like Your Man” (and that song interpolated Primitive Radio Gods, fer chrissakes). A perfect 5; not 100% sure I’d feel moved to touch the radio dial/skip button, but god knows I’m never going to seek it out.

Julian Axelrod: I can count the John Mayer songs I’ve heard on one hand, so I’ve only known him as a noxious public persona and longtime critical punching bag. So when I hit the first verse, I was pretty worried — “pushing 40 in the friend zone” sounds bad coming from any guy, but it sounds especially bad coming from this guy. And then came a pleasant surprise: a sleek, sly, self-effacing bop fit for the pleasant birth and painful death of a summer fling. Credit’s due to No I.D. for restraining and refining Mayer’s schtick for 2018, more effectively than he did Jay Z’s on 4:44. But Mayer’s no slouch either — true to the song, it feels like I’m seeing him for the first time.

Stephen Eisermann: A groovy track for sure, I’m just not sure I buy John Mayer as the singer. Coincidentally, it sounds like something that belongs on the La La Land soundtrack, a movie that seriously miscast Gosling’s role.

Will Rivitz: You know that scene in Alien where one of the movie’s titular characters bursts out of the chest of a crew member? “New Light” is like that, but if the chest were impervious enough that the alien couldn’t escape, and also the alien is a song that successfully balances Mayer’s trademark smoothness with an excitingly vibrant groove and the chest is Mayer’s Magic-106.7-ass monotone delivery. 

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The production is endearingly kitsch, even if it’s basically just the funk preset on a Casio. Everything else is just half-assed. Even the guitar solo sounds like it doesn’t want to be here.

Reader average: [7.5] (2 votes)

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