There’s something about Jason Mraz’s songs that trigger happiness. “YES!” is no different, and the beachy California vibe exuded is intoxicating. Two years after his last album, “Love Is a Four Letter Word,” Mraz is back with more songs about love, life and unsurpassed optimism.
The only thing knocking down a pitchfork from the new album is its similarity to his previous work. Every song on “YES!” sounds as if it could have been released on any of his albums from the last 12 years. When it comes to artistic growth, Mraz is stagnant.
Still, it’s hard to argue against Mraz’s quintessential formula. Up until this year, 2008’s “I’m Yours” held the record for the longest time spent on Billboard’s Hot 100 (the title now belongs to Imagine Dragons for “Radioactive”). There’s a reason Mraz finds immense success with each release — he is a skilled songwriter and that is demonstrated in the 14 tracks of “YES!”
Introspective lyrics such as “My thoughts are all I’ve got so I try to make them brave” in “Hello, You Beautiful Thing,” make the upbeat tune a summer anthem. The motivational spirit continues in “Out of My Hands” and “3 Things.”
Mraz, a devoted environmentalist, incorporates nature and animal sounds in “Back to the Earth.” The ode to Mother Nature is lively and poignant. The cover of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” is stunning. The acoustic song showcases Mraz’s vocal range and rivals the renowned Boys II Men cover.
Singing about being in love with his best friend again, “Best Friend” is just as catchy as his duet with Colbie Caillat, “Lucky,” with the same message. Much like “Lucky,” the song is one of gratitude:
“My life is better because you’re a part of it / I know without you by my side that I would be different / Yes, I feel my life is better / And so is the world we’re livin’ in / I’m thankful for the time I spent with my best friend / You’re my best friend.”
Mraz stays true to himself as an artist. Yes, it resembles his other albums, but that isn’t a bad thing. Jason Mraz makes you feel. And “YES!” feels like summer.
“YES!” released July 15.
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