It’s been 4 years since Bruno Mars’ commercially successful Unorthodox Jukebox. He’s a chart king who seamlessly balances elements of more traditional genres with pop sensibilities, and 24K Magic displays this talent with absolute panache.
The album opens with the chart banger that is the title track 24K Magic, a glorious single that merges 70s funk with the EDM aesthetics that are central in much of todays modern music and incorporates catchy rhymes. The title song would perhaps be accused of garishness if performed by anyone else, yet Mars’ natural ability as not only a musician, but as an entertainer allows him to sound cool and smooth, despite the seemingly shallow lyrics.
The whole tone of this album reflects the wit and banter of the opener, and leaves you wondering: maybe Mars really is this shallow, or maybe he’s just down for a laugh. But to be perfectly honest who gives a fuck. Songs such as Perm and Calling All My Lovelies exude twenty first century humour but pair catchy and comical lyrics with sounds that have been deeply neglected over the years.
Although 24K Magic screams 70s funk, most of the album infuses the new jack swing of the 90s with more modern elements, bringing a once popular RnB sub-genre back to the mainstream. Songs such as Versace On The Floor and Finesse are heavily reminiscent of Bobby Brown or Boyz II Men.
Generally, I prefer albums with more lyrical substance, but this isn’t an album that’s meant to discuss the woes of our world or social injustice; this is an album for when you want to groove and party. Although I would love to see Mars move into deeper lyrical territory, which he has indicated he’s more than capable of doing, I think 24K Magic is a really worthwhile listen. His album is fresh and standout in a music scene dominated by alternative hip hop/RnB, tropical house, grime and indie pop rock. Whilst the album may lack socially conscious lyricism, it is pleasantly made up for by the musicianship and authenticity of Mars, who is an artist profoundly invested into the music he creates. This is an album that doesn’t try to be something it’s not intended to be. It doesn’t half-heartedly address more meaningful, gritty or demanding topics in attempts to “cover all bases”.
If you want something funky, fresh and humorous that gets you into the full party spirit, this short and sweet album will comfortably get you through pre-drinks and on your way. You’ll feel just as cool as Bruno, even if you aren’t.
24K Magic, Perm, Calling All My Lovelies, Finesse.