PLAYING DETROIT: Mayer Hawthorne “Cosmic Love”

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Detroit-adopted Ann Arborite and premier Motown revivalist, Mayer Hawthorne, returned this week with another funk infused groove, “Cosmic Love” from his fourth solo studio LP (his first in three years) due out this spring. If you’re unfamiliar, you might think Hawthorne is just another white boy relying on soulful affectation. What you should know is that Hawthorne has built his reputation on authentically modernizing funk, soul and Detroit’s signature Motown sound in a way that has always felt fresh and fun but with a soothing melancholy that speaks to what Hawthorne does best: croon and groove.

This time around, however, I feel as though Hawthorne missed an opportunity. “Cosmic Love”, for me, is borderline comical. It could fit into a shaky Shaft-esque 1970’s amateur porn or a montage scene from an Anchorman movie with equal fluidity. It’s satirical in its literal interpretation using galactic twinkling synths, Hawthorne’s spacey echoed vocals, and the breathy female background chorus, all of which makes “Cosmic Love” feel more like a store-bought Halloween costume than a reinvention of your parent’s vintage wardrobe.

Am I a jerk for longing for heartbroken, lovelorn Hawthorne circa 2009’s A Strange Arrangement? Or story driven, assertively dreamy Hawthorne from 2013’s Where Does This Door Go? Considering Hawthorne is an artist who begs us to turn the clocks back, isn’t it natural for me to want to do the same? It should be said that I like “Cosmic Love.” I do. I can appreciate its playful, candied kitsch. The single opens with the lyrics “If I had a dollar/For every dream of you and me/I’d buy myself a rocket/And shoot into your galaxy” and by the end all I can think is that I wished he would have shot a little further.

Listen to “Cosmic Love” for yourself below:

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