I'm not the type to look a gift disc in the mouth, so when I recently discovered an unsolicited package from Atlantic Records on my desk, I was pretty sure it would be a good day (they've got Missy Elliot, you know). I eagerly tore into the manila envelope and removed its contents—ready and willing to hear some new music—unaware that I was about to set forth on one of the most irritating afternoons of my life, courtesy of über-popular (yet hugely sucky) reggae-ish/rock-esque singer-songwriter, Jason Mraz.
The CD contained some sort of copyright protection preventing it from installing (or even playing) on my work computer. Clearly Atlantic is worried they'll lose money after I've pirated a million of their albums in an evil and convoluted plot that began three years ago when I took this job and ends in a few short months once my theft of promo albums has earned me millions.
After staring at the computer screen for 20 minutes, wondering what the hell happened to my Discman, I went home in hopes that this thing would somehow play on my laptop. No dice. "Do these fuckers even want this to be heard?" I asked no one in particular, and angrily shoved the disc into an actual CD player.
The sounds of the device thinking were promising at first, but I was ultimately met with the words, "no disc" scrolling across the display. As steam poured out of my ears, making a kettle-like screech, I frantically searched for anything I could use to smash the disc into a million pieces. And then it hit me—I hadn't tried my car's sound system. Flinging the door open, I jumped into the passenger side of the car, turned the key and reclined the seat, ready for something, anything awesome.
"This was not worth it," I said to myself as the immensely overrated music from Mr. A-Z's Love is a Four Letter Word began.
If love is a four-letter word, then Mraz spells it S-H-I-T. About three minutes into the first track, I'd already heard more platitudes than a Hobby Lobby warehouse's worth of inspirational, "Hang this in your kitchen so you remember that every day is a gift!" plaques and/or posters. With what I can only describe as a stripped- down, reggae-for-frat-boys take on so-called rock music, Mraz has created a sound that only Sublime and Jimmy Buffet could make if they got together to write a laidback, beach-bum album for dweebs.
Lyrics like, "I'm letting go of the thoughts that do not make me strong / And I believe this way can be the same for everyone" or "I will not waste my days making up all kinds of ways to worry about some things that will not happen to me" are long-winded, poorly worded and sloppy at best. I'm all for positive music, but Mraz' interpretation of life and love seem to amount to little more than his inability to feel stress or worry about anything ever (must be nice).
Love is a Four Letter Word is positivity for positivity's sake and, despite Mraz' receiving credit for songwriting duties, it wouldn't surprise me to learn the album was crafted by a soulless committee using intensive research and focus groups full of weirdos who hate the slightest musical challenge.
It takes ages to sift through the trite lyricism found on Love, and once I do, all that's left is some forgettable guitar work and needless layers of horns, strings and "soulful" backup vocals. Longtime fans will probably pick this up in the interest of completing their collections, but anyone else will be much happier spending their cash on an album—any album—that's less bland.
Did you know you can follow Alex De Vore on Twitter? You sure can: @SFRsA_Sharp