Bruno Mars’ new album “24k Magic” is the exact kind of throwback funk that the charts have been sorely missing since his 2012 album Unorthodox Jukebox.
Like Mars’ usual work, the brief LP is a blast from the past; a foray into smooth 70s R&B, 80s funk and 90s pop. Except for the Mark Ronson assisted monster hit “Uptown Funk”, 24k is the singer’s first album in four years. But one listen to the title sequence and first single “24k Magic,” it is clear that Mars still has the golden touch.
The three-minute song is dripping in a illustrious combination of disco ball glitter and smooth posturing that only Bruno can get away with, and is backed up by the smooth steps of his entourage and harmonized choruses. It has the listener on their feet in no time, and clearly sets the tone and flavor of the songs to come.
Next is “Chunky,” a barbecue-ready banger set over a lightly funky, synth-heavy autotune. Bruno advises listeners to “slide with your boy to the bar,” a command that is easy to follow because you’re already gliding along to the beat.
“Perm” is a definite album stand-out, and finds Mars adopting a James Brown-esque shout to cleverly tell a girl that her attitude needs a perm: she’s gotta relax. From start to finish, the album is encrusted in allusions to soul music and pimp culture, from the mention of pinky rings to classic Cadillac’s and hot combs.
“Versace on the floor” is one of the few slow jams, crooned over a beat with echoes of 1980s Michael Jackson ballads and Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.” According to an interview with Rolling Stone, Mars stated that he wanted the album to feel like the middle school dances he attended in the 90s, and “Finesse” is a dead ringer for 90s nostalgia. The easy tune and chorus feels like it belongs on the best of the 90s playlists, right next to megahits like Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” and Soul For Real’s “Candy Rain.”
In all, the album is a well-rounded body of work; one that will have listeners conking their hair and slipping on gator shoes to hit the town. Ladies and gentlemen, Bruno Mars is officially back, and with a vengeance.
Verdict: 24k is a fitting comeback for Bruno, packed full of soul, funk and a few sure hits. There may not be any instant classics that will outdo “Uptown Funk,” but there are solid tunes to jam to and undercover gems that won’t get played out on the radio.
Top Tracks: “24k,” “Perm,” “Chunky,” “Versace on the Floor,” and “Finesse”