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Review: Bruno Mars' Album, "24K Magic"

Reviews are a pain-free way of combining writing with what I love (for example, music), in a way that generates interest.


"24K Magic" Bursts with Energy and Charisma

Following up 2012's 'Unorthodox Jukebox', American singer/songwriter Bruno Mars returns with a third studio album entitled, '24K Magic'.

Mars’ overall energy and charisma on ‘24K Magic’ is commendable. The 31-year-old gives an variety of praiseworthy, committed performances across its nine tracks.

The Hawaiian heats up the climax of ‘That’s What I Like’, as well as highlight ‘Versace On The Floor’ and can be truly invigorating to listen to.

There’s also no shortage of radio-friendly singles on the record.

It’s home to several digestible and dangerously instant pop tunes, most of which deserve one or two repeat plays.

Even during the release’s eye-roll inducing low points, Mars’ enthusiastic charm often wins out.

The LP Explores Old School R&B, Soul Influences

‘24K Magic’ gorges on a wide range of old-school influences.

While it has a generally contemporary outlook and utilises modern-day trickery, ‘24K Magic’ pays tribute to the pop, R&B, soul and hip-hop of the late-80s and 90s.

The tracklist could very well hit a nostalgic nerve in listeners who were active during those landmark years.

Channelling infectious retro vibes, its music production colourfully connects that bygone era to the present day.

The album’s variety of crisp, effervescent instrumentals is one of its big achievements.

Admittedly, due to the project’s retro agenda, certain tunes get dangerously close to sounding novelty and gimmicky.

This is especially true of its numerous ballads.

Mars’ self-belief and soulful conviction is the main reason they manage to stay elevated above a cheesy tone.


The Curse of "Uptown Funk"

For all that though, ’24K Magic’ is in many ways cursed by the success of Mark Ronson’s 2014 smash ‘Uptown Funk’, which featured Mars and is now one of the best-selling singles of all time.

The album’s throwback theme operates entirely in that song’s shadow, more or less every song on ’24K Magic’ feels like a spin-off of it.

Title track ‘24K Magic’ is an above average pop tune.

If it were released before ’Uptown Funk’ it might’ve made a greater impact as a separate song, but it wasn’t.

Also, as he did on the pimped-out ‘Uptown Funk’, Mars readily slides into his animated, paper-gangster posture throughout new LP ‘24K Magic’ - and after a while, it can irritate.

Mars Gets Dirty on "Versace On The Floor"

‘Perm’ is a slick, stylish recreation of a classic period in soul music. However, its jovial quirks and vibrant presentation overpower anything else it could potentially offer.

That said, the song’s energy is undeniable, ’Perm’ would go down a storm at the right gathering.

Over a romantic, 80s soul/R&B backdrop, Mars gets down and dirty on singalong slow jam, ‘Versace On The Floor’.

The track stands out melodically, plus for some reason, it’s easy to envision Mars passionately falling on both his knees to belt it out onstage at some point in the future.

‘Straight Up & Down’ also depicts Mars getting intimate with his partner.

Propped up by sugar-coated vocals and treacly harmonies, the innocent, approachable soul track is unthreatening, in a 90s boyband-type of way.

Halle Berry is the Focus of "Calling All My Lovelies"

As the apparent inspiration behind Mars’ 2012 hit ‘Locked Out Of Heaven’, actress Halle Berry once again finds herself the focus of Mars’ affections on ‘Calling All My Lovelies’.

Upset by a girl who is spurring his advances, Mars spends ‘Calling All My Lovelies’ looking to his circle of admirers for comfort.

Followers will find it hard to resist the unashamedly blissed out R&B cut’s tempting refrains and glossy beatwork.

‘Finesse’ is strongly inspired the late-80s/early-90s’ new jack swing period, and ignites a fair amount of spark.

Proudly proclaiming how fly he is, the tune is fun and harmless. It should bring a wry smile to the face of anyone who’s a fan of the fusion genre.

Mars Electrifies on "Too Good To Say Goodbye"

Lamenting the break down of a much cherished relationship, Mars comes across heavyweight and wholehearted on ‘Too Good To Say Goodbye’.

The tune sounds very much like a song co-written by R&B kingpin Babyface (which it was), and Mars’ gives a multidimensional performance on it.

As he injects intensity into the cut's huge melodic arcs, Mars' performance triggers the memory of several legendary pop and soul artists. He certainly can’t be accused of lacking effort on ‘Too Good To Say Goodbye’.

By the song’s impassioned climax, even casual listeners will be rooting for Mars to get his girl back.

Verdict: ****** 6/10