Jason Mraz fans will be excited to learn that the Geek in Pink has returned with a brand-new album, Yes! If you’re expecting a curbside prophet whose tracks have clearly evolved since his early days, you’ll be slightly disappointed. If you’re happy with the mostly mellowed-out Mraz from days of yore, you’ll be extremely happy. Don’t get us wrong: Yes! is a lovely album. It’s just not groundbreaking.
To be fair, Mraz knows exactly what he’s doing and he does it well. So, why mess up a good thing? And there is a distinctly different quality to the album, as the entirely acoustic recording lends itself to being somehow more Mraz than he’s been in a while.
Tracks like Mraz’s new single, “Love Someone,” contain just the Mraziness of which we speak. With mellow guitars and, dare we say, sitars, “Love Someone” feels like one of the most easygoing songs we’ve heard from Mraz in ages. If he didn’t write this after one seriously intense yoga session, we’d be surprised. It’s so pretty, we don’t even mind the cliché big chorals in the background. We can even forgive the line “shiny stars all seem to congregate around your face.” (It does sound a little like someone gave a teenage boy a thesaurus, though, right?) And, while it’s clearly a love song for someone in particular, we appreciate the karmic idea that when you love someone, you get love in return.
Another wholly familiar love song from Yes! is the track “Hello, You Beautiful Thing.” It’s a little sexy… in that we’d love to roll over in bed and find Mraz yawning those words to us. But it’s also a song that could easily fit on any of his previous albums and was certainly made with the radio in mind. He falls on his classic not-quite-rapping way of talking through the verses, but if you didn’t already love that aspect of his brand, you wouldn’t be here. Right?
Maybe we’re partial to driving songs (who isn’t?), but our favorite track is “Long Drive.” Destined to be rerecorded by some pop-country artist, “Long Drive” is one of those songs where each person who hears it will make up their own memory or daydream-filled music video. The basic concept: Finding yourself in a car with the one you love and hoping the journey never ends. “Long drive, long night, the best night of my life,” Mraz croons. And everyone knows exactly what he means.
The rest of Yes! is awash with the usual Mraz kitsch and cliché. It’s not offensive. There’s plenty of ukelele. Plenty of opportunity to swish your hips. Plenty of love for hot girls and the world at large. And plenty of Mraz reminding fans he’s just a normal, nature-lovin’ dude. We like it well enough, and we know Mraz fans will love the album as well. However, if you’re someone who wants signs of growth from an artist who has been around as long as Mraz, you should probably look elsewhere.