not a member? click here to sign up
Love Is A Four Letter Word
Saccharine-sweet sunshine pop from down San Diego way
Colm O Hare, 21 May 2012
In critical terms he’s a lightweight, specialising in easy-going, breezy, acoustic, sunshine pop. But this avocado farm-owning, California-based vegetarian is a humungously successful all the same. Mraz’s last album 2008’s We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, featuring the Grammy-nominated mega single ‘I’m Yours’, sold in millions, while he has become a huge live draw especially in what used to be called the Far East, where they can’t get enough of his melodic slacker anthems.
Wisely, he has stuck pretty faithfully to the template here – though it has to be said that this one outdoes its predecessors in the feelgood, isn’t- life-wonderful, positivity stakes. On the sunny, soulful opener ‘The Freedom Song’ it takes all of 15 seconds before he’s crooning about walking on the beach at sunset feeling good with the warm waves no doubt lapping at his tanned feet. ‘Living In The Moment’ finds him whistling the intro like a jolly milkman before philosophising about not wasting his days worrying about things that will never happen, while ‘The Woman I Love’ (the melody of which faintly recalls U2’s ‘Stuck In A Moment’) is about as straightforward and direct a love song as you could find.
The melodies are, in the main, well turned-out if derivative, while the jazzy, strummed (with a bit of reggae-lite) grooves are in keeping with the mellow mood. But lyrically, Mraz is too often as sickly-sweet as the most soporific chick-flick dialogue: on the recent single, ‘I Won’t Give Up’, he can be found coo-ing lines such as, “When I look into your eyes/ It’s like watching the night sky/ Or a beautiful sunrise” (you get the picture!) The playing, production and performances are faultless almost to the point of sterility and it’s all eminently enjoyable but instantly forgettable.