There’s no question that Bruno Mars is one of the cockiest people in music. His new album, 24k Magic, will surely go down as one of the cockiest albums of the year – hell, maybe even of all-time. Mars is a guy who can get away with being absent from releasing new material for four years, only to come back somehow bigger and better than ever and survive the incredible pressure of following up a song that got certified Diamond.
If you know Mars’ persona and the way he goes about things, you can imagine that he lives for moments like these – the times where he’s the center of the attention and all eyes are on everything he does. Mars is the only guy who can release what is perhaps the most important album of his career and only put nine songs on it, because that’s who he is, and well, he just sort of does what he wants.
24k Magic is not an EP, nor is it an album from a progressive rock band, so it is incredibly strange that Mars – a superstar pop crooner – provides something so brief for his first offering in such a long time. But underneath it all, whatever the reason behind the track listing decision may be, the content of this record is a shining example of quality over quantity, despite how natural of an urge it is from fans to want a new album with more songs than one can handle.
However, the plus side with these nine tracks is that they aren’t trying to do too much – there simply just isn’t enough room for Mars to get in over his head with experimenting in new genres and things he’s never done before. Sure, 24k Magic is much different from its predecessors, but it’s naturally different – and all the time he spent in the studio to pick these nine songs out meant that he made damn sure that if it was going to be on the album, it was going to be the best thing that he had available.
In a way, you could almost refer to this album as Uptown Funk: The Full-Length, but that would be an insult to what Mars accomplishes here. A lot of the content on the album does absolutely share similarities to his massive hit with Mark Ronson, but what it does is explore 80’s pop even further than “Uptown Funk” did without shamelessly replicating what made it one of the biggest pop songs around.
So, what this means is that there really isn’t that unabashed hit that was solely made for radio consumption like you found in Unorthodox Jukebox tracks such as “Locked Out Of Heaven” or “Treasure,” but there is a place for most of them still to flourish on radio.
With the title track and lead single of this record, Mars channels his inner-funk on the high-velocity party song, and he manages to sprinkle that 70’s-80’s influence through the rest of the efforts, too. “Perm” is a no-nonsense James Brown tribute with complete nonsensical lyrics, while “Chunky” and standout “That’s What I Like” will having you coming back just for their hook loaded pre-choruses.
The record is ultimately an album of the decades, because even though it’s rooted in that soulful pop and funk from 70’s, it mixes some 90’s in as well – the R&B-tinged “Finesse” is straight out of a Boyz II Men or New Edition catalog, and “Straight Up and Down” sounds like classic MTV fodder as it shows off Mars’ best vocals on the record. As things come to a close, the artist solidifies himself as the master of the ballad on heartstring-puller, “Versace on the Floor,” and pop-timistic closer, “Too Good To Say Goodbye,” marking the end to an album that leaves us begging for an encore.
Despite dabbling in a number of different eras here, 24k Magic is undoubtedly Bruno Mars’ most concentrated and concise album of his career by a long shot. The throwback feel on the record is reinvented enough where it doesn’t feel like he stepped foot in a time machine – rather, he’s transforming the past into the present to make a new normal, and what results is practically a modern-day Thriller. 24k Magic displays the utmost growth as an artist, and through all the glitz and glamour of the production and the non-stop swagger dripping in every track, Bruno Mars strikes gold.
Bruno Mars throws it back to the 80's for an album that will no doubt be remembered for decades to come.