Born in the late Seventies, John Mayer has often seemed as if he was operating in a different era. The Connecticut guitarist has played the blues with Eric Clapton and BB King and has an ongoing touring arrangement with members of The Grateful Dead. This eighth album sounds like the moment this musical time traveller arrives in the 1980s.
He looks heavily blow dried in pastel blue and pink on the cover. This time the restrained soft rock of his guitar is augmented by retro keyboard flourishes from Greg Phillinganes, who played on Michael Jackson’s biggest albums. It’s fun if you can stomach all the cheese, with the triumphant synth riff of Last Train Home particularly likely to encourage listeners to roll up the sleeves of their white suit, punch the air and solve a crime in Miami. The easygoing groove of Wild Blue precisely recalls the moment when dad comes home with the family’s first CD player and a copy of Brothers in Arms to play on it.
It’s all so superficially glossy that there’s nothing for the gossip hounds to get het up about. This notorious womaniser, who Taylor Swift has skewered in song, was semi-cancelled by a couple of incriminating interviews in 2010, but here he’s crooning cosily about longing to settle down on Til the Right One Comes. During the breezy Carry Me Away you can picture him steering a pristine yacht across an azure sea. He sounds extremely comfortable, but this sonic development is no thriller.