Mayer Hawthorne

Where Does This Door Go

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Mayer Hawthorne already had three solid albums of retro-soul in his back catalog, so with album number four, it's just natural that he spreads his wings a bit. The Ann Arbor-bred, L.A.-based singer was quoted as saying he "truly did not give a" you-know-what during the recording of the album, and while that may prepare the listener for a guest appearance from Korn, awesome dubstep bass drops, and twenty-minute psychedelic jams, Where Does This Door Go is nothing of the sort. Filled with the kind of funk that gets in the shoulders more than the rump, the album is a cool stroll from the '60s Motown Hawthorne has always adored to the fern bar/yacht rock of the '70s and on to the '80s when Hall & Oates were Private Eyes and allowing new wave into their life. It's a sleek and small landscape that seems heavily influenced by the Neptunes, so it's no surprise that Pharrell shows up for a handful of productions, including the almost-Aja-outtake "Wine Glass Woman," which reaches for the wit of Donald Fagen, but lands on Robin Thicke ("Wore your Christian Dior/But you shatter into pieces on the floor"). That's all well and good if a breezy feeling is what's required, and as the album gives up infectious odes to friendship ("Reach Out Richard") and goofball lyrics like "I'm programmable, I can go all night" ("Robot Love"), all while doubling down on the Michael McDonald ("The Stars Are Ours" is like the bearded one jumping between his Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan gigs), it's a pure, lowercase joy. Still, being so featherweight and Timberlake means "Crime," with Kendrick Lamar, comes off as gated community fluff, and while the lesser cuts are fun in context, they'll stop mixtapes cold with their bridge-to-nowhere concepts (the title cut), or come off as too cute/too clever ("Small Clone"/"Designer Drug"). Wherever this door does go, it is a place that calls for boat shoes, a relaxed attitude, and a returning fan's patience.

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