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Battle Studies

Love as a battlefield

Rating: 7 / 10

Jackie Hayden, 14 Dec 2009

Mayer has a tabloid reputation as a fun-loving roue, but in the studio he can turn the solemnity up to 11. His fourth album is a classy pop opus for grown-ups in which he emphasizes the more warlike aspects of sexual relationships.

This is nowhere more obvious than on ‘Heartbreak Warfare’ which sounds like he borrowed an out-take from Joshua Tree-era U2 – there are references to “clouds of sulphur in the air, bombs are falling everywhere”. For the Fleetwood Mac-styled ‘Half of My Heart’, featuring Taylor Swift, he lightens up somewhat. However, on the sombre, early Paul Simon-ish ‘Who Says’ he forlornly demands the right to get stoned. He becomes Brian Adams on ‘Perfectly Lonely’, while the slinky ‘Assassin’ comes with a solid bass undertow and sees Mayer tossing off a decent chorus. He funks up Robert Johnson’s ‘Crossroads’ – but the doomy, Beatles-ish ‘Friends, Lovers Or Nothing’ goes askew. Worth studying all the same...

Rating: 7 / 10
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