Review of John Mayer’s Classic Song References on “Sob Rock”



Getty Images

Last week, John Mayer’s fascinating evolution took to another stage with the release of Sob Rock. This is the eighth studio album by the man that rocketed into the pop-rock stratosphere following the release of 2001’s Room for squares, a start that marked the beginning of a fascinating journey that has unfolded in the 20 years since “No Such Thing” and “Your Body Is A Wonderland” took the world by storm.

Over the next decade, Mayer checked almost every box required to achieve musical stardom virtually overnight: being stalked by the paparazzi during very public relations with Jessica Simpson and Minka Kelly, abuse of alcohol which he turned to help cope with his newfound fame, and the self-imposed exile following a Playboy maintenance.

However, he emerged with a vengeance in the early 2010s when he embarked on a redemption tour defined by his reinvention into the musician he wanted to to be as opposed to who he was expected being, which ultimately led him to bond with members of the Grateful Dead and earn a reputation as one of the most talented blues guitarists on the planet.

If you’ve been following what Mayer has been up to over the past few years, I don’t need to tell you that he’s also proven on several occasions that he’s a pretty hilarious dude who is more than happy to make fun of celebrities. deaf and equally insane billionaire who fled on a private yacht at the start of the pandemic.

When I decided to give sob rock a listen when it fell on friday i didn’t really have high expectations. When you consider that I’ve listened to it in its entirety at least a dozen times since then, it’s safe to say that it has surpassed them to a degree that I never anticipated. The record is a love letter to a bygone era of song-to-synthesizer enhanced by Mayer’s superb musicality and the self-awareness and surprising amount of humor he puts into each track.

sob rock is an album that went on for years as Mayer dropped a few songs that ended up making the final cut in 2018. Last week Apple Music posted an in-depth interview he conducted with Zach Lowe where he provided a peek behind the curtain, which was filled with some fascinating revelations.

However, nothing has captured more attention than the exchange that begins at 8:30 p.m., where Mayer explains his approach when it comes to formulating the musical aesthetic of sob rock and the supposedly nonexistent memories he was supposed to invoke:

“Maybe it’s something that has happened before, but when you go looking, it hasn’t. The idea of ​​Sob Rock is to implant false memories in your brain. That’s what he did for me. It’s a little black mirror. It’s out of my brain, and it’s out of the Mandela effect that everyone shares, and the question is, can you have memories of things that never happened to you? Can you go back in time and synthesize a work so faithful to the time that when you hear it your brain goes away. ‘No no no no no. It exists. I’ll find him, and you can’t.

Nothing illustrates the essence of Sob Rock—or Mayer as a wholequite like this quote. Mayer kicks off this summary with a shy smile on his face and Lowe can’t help but literally slap his knee, laughing at what appears to be a combination of disbelief at his explanation and appreciation for what appears to be the real one. seriously with which it comes. It is an inherent contradiction that defines the conundrum that is sob rock and the most pressing question it raises: can we trust the assertions of the man behind it?

Mayer is a crazy talented musician who has earned the right to become a musical troll, and sob rock is essentially an album aimed at the very online crowd hidden under the facade of mainstream appeal (lAfter the talk, he admits that he originally planned to make an album that would piss off his listeners, saying “It’s called sob rock because it’s a shitpost “).

In another interview for the excellent Blackbird spy plane, he offered more information about his attempt to channel the sound of the 1980s, saying:

“I must have understood this genetic tightrope walker, where if there is too much retro-DNA, two things happen: I lose interest, and I don’t believe it. So that was all about pushing the line back, and it turns out – going back to 100% full asymmetrical ’80s neon sunglasses – you really only need 8% for people to understand. vision. Anything over 8% and people say, “I get it, then. “

There is no doubt sob rock conjures up a plethora of instantly recognizable but still unique vibes over the course of its 40-minute duration, and there’s also something to be said about the ‘Shared Mandela Effect’ it aimed to evoke. However, it’s hard to take his claims at face value when you consider that the album is littered with obvious allusions to, if not outright photocopies, songs from the era that inspired it.

Mayer wastes absolutely no time announcing what he is about to do by opening the album with “Last Train Home”, whose opening drums pay homage to Toto’s “Rosanna” before giving way to a blatant nod to “Africa”. In the middle of “It Shouldn’t Matter but It Does”, we are treated to the inimitable chorus of “Free Fallin ‘” by Tom Petty, a song that Mayer himself covered in the past. Although I doubt that the melody of “New Light” is a deliberate reference to “A Lovely Night” by La La Land (which would be an anachronistic tribute despite the thematic similarities), the same can’t be said for the funk-up version of the drums of “Every Breath You Take” that she uses as a base.

But wait! There is more!

It is very Hard to believe that it is a coincidence that the guitar which inaugurates “Why You No Love Me? imitates whoever launches “All Out of Love” from Air Supply. It’s also no exaggeration to suggest that the man who spent years touring with Dead & Company purposefully channeled Jerry Garcia’s masterful work on “Touch of Gray” with his smooth riffs on “Wild Blue” ( a song whose lyrics contain the line “wild blue on a bed of gray” – a wild blue Lining, If you want).

The piano on “Shot in the Dark? Vintage U2 (“City of Blinding Lights” may have been released long after the end of the Sob Rock era, but the contrast in titles is hard to ignore). However, it doesn’t stop there, as it also adds a fusion of the hooks of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and Van Halen’s “Jump”. Does the beginning of “Til The Right One Comes” sound familiar to you? It will if you’ve already listened Talking Head “This must be the place. “You feel the same about ‘Take me away?’ It’s probably because you have also heard “Your Love” from The Outfield (with a hint of Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” for good measure).

In the aforementioned chat with Blackbird Skyplane, Mayer notes the best way to approach sob rock is to “pretend someone made a record in 1988 and put it aside and just found it that year.” However, the sonic journey arguably ends at the dawn of the new millennium with “All I Want Is To Be With You,” a closing track where the former teenage idol appropriately monkeys “I Want It That Way”. Backstreet Boys. in a song whose title is a not-so-subtle allusion to a Hootie & the Blowfish hit.

I cannot stress enough that this review is not meant to hit Sob Rock, I’m also not trying to imply that Mayer is guilty of prolific musical plagiarism (it should be noted that there are also many song recalls on Space for squares, Continuum, and other previous work that I didn’t even mention). Rather, it cements the musician’s status as the troll he admitted he set out to be; it might be a shitpost full of memes, but it’s the one cooked up by a longtime music student deploying his education with fantastic results.

sob rock is the musical equivalent of a quilt made from concert tees; a tapestry that reflects the music Mayer grew up with before being propelled into the limelight. In a sense, he’s playing the role of a hip-hop producer going through a mental crate of old albums and breathing new life into his favorite samples. His DNA is indeed only the retro 8% he was aiming for, but the claim that some of these genes are not carbon copies of the many classic songs he cloned is patently absurd.

Based on how most people viewed Mayer a few decades ago, “patently absurd” might also be a good way to describe the very existence of Sob Rock. However, whatever his true intentions, it’s impossible to deny that Mayer knows what he’s doing.

Source link


Leave A Reply