Recommend if you like: James Brown, The Weeknd, high school proms
Expectation: Following the smash success of ‘Uptown Funk’, Bruno Mars has fully embraced the funk. Expect James Brown worship with modern production.
- 24K Magic – The album’s lead single; its a lot of fun. The guitars are funky, the synth bass is smooth, and even Mars’s vocals mimic the call-and-response style that peaked around the dawn of hip hop. The latter half of the track features a more modern bridge, but its brief and fits fairly well.
- Chunky – Doubtlessly the next single, Mars uses a more familiar vocal style over funky production that’s just a bit too similar to the first track for my taste. The harmonies on the bridge are nice though.
- Perm – My favorite track on the album, Mars’s energy is huge and infectious. He has some amount of swagger and showmanship on most of the tracks, but only here does he become genuinely charismatic. To be honest though, a lot of that energy might be spilling out from the absolutely perfect drumming.
- That’s What I Like – The moments with harmonies are great. The rest is meh.
- Versace On the Floor – This sounds like it was written for the scene in the movie when the main character finally has a slow dance with the love interest at the prom. And Bruno Mars is actually there singing it. Also, the movie is placed in the 80’s.
- Straight Up & Down – Has the transparent euphemisms ‘Versace’ was lacking, so this will be the one they place at school dances in real life. Glad to see Bruno has his bases covered.
- Calling All My Lovelies – The best of the ballad tracks. Not very good, but still better than the others.
- Too Good To Say Goodbye – So formulaic that I would actually believe it if there were a checklist involved in the songwriting process. Also, there has to be a deluxe version coming, because the ending is just not how anyone ends an album.
Overall: Well, the first few tracks were cool. Bruno Mars brings a ton of energy, and the instrumentals fit perfectly. Unfortunately, it only lasts for three tracks. The remainder of the album is dominated by pop ballads that largely sound as if they should have been forgotten about decades ago, relegated to nostalgic karaoke collections for the rest of time. Its not awful, but there is almost nothing good about it.
Those first three tracks though…. what could’ve been…