Bruno Mars has led a eclectic, bombastic career thus far. It seems like just yesterday he was serenading us with casual island pop features like B.o.B’s “Nothing on You” or Travis (I refuse to call him Travie) McCoy’s “Billionaire”. In hindsight, and especially in today’s landscape, those songs are fun but irrefutably juvinile. They’re products of their time, but thankfully for us, Bruno Mars isn’t.
He started, like many, as a songwriter for other artists. His co-writes are as diverse as his Cee-Lo Green’s classic “F*** You” to most recently, Adele’s “All I Ask”. Though Bruno Mars was definitely a star in his own right, a certain single was released in collaboration with Mark Ronson over two years ago and won a Grammy. That’s right: “Uptown Funk” is over two years old and seems to be here to stay.
So, how do you follow up a song like “Uptown Funk”, a song that skyrocketed to the top of the charts and wedding DJ playlists?
Well, you make nine more of them.
Bruno Mars’ third LP, 24K Magic, aims to be a lean, cool nine song pop album with hooks and punches so rapid and aggressive, its abrasive nature is less a knock-out pop to the jaw and more like a soothing shiatsu massage. Retro and sensual, Mars doesn’t change a thing to formula, cause why should he? His schtick is to mine and mold virtually every genre and R&B style of the last 40 years to his will. He clearly aims to make classics in the most retro-vintage sense of the word. 24K Magic is out Friday [November 18th], but listening to the record makes you feel like you’re flipping the 180-gram record over and blowing dust off the yellowed vinyl jacket, and that’s apparent even when he bounces from decade to decade, genre to genre.
To note specific song highlights on this short, tight, 34 minute showcase of an album would be doing the record something of a disservice. Every song is a banger, and that’s the point. There’s zero fat on the record, but songs like “That’s What I Like” and “Versace on the Floor” are perhaps the most stark reminders that Bruno Mars probably won’t be going away anytime soon, like it or not.
Even if he leaves a spotlight as bright as two consecutive Super Bowl half-time show appearances and “Just The Way You Are” playing in every supermarket intercom until society collapes, “Locked Out of Heaven” will still be on the radio, so you might as well dance.