The king of funk is back, but perhaps not with flying colors. Bruno Mars is here with his long-awaited comeback to 2012's Unorthodox Jukebox with his third record 24K Magic.
Bruno Mars is known for his infectious groove and bombastic style, and 24K Magic is much the same. Lead single '24K Magic' opens the record up, and our opinions since our review of the track in October remain largely unchanged. The upfront vibes and 90s instrumental really sells his funky composure. It's a groovy song and has a very original sound to it, and all signs pointed to a successful record.
Sadly, 24K Magic is somewhat of a letdown. Bruno Mars' confidence is taken to an almost obnoxious level, exuding cockiness rather than groove. Many songs are ruined by this; 'Perm' has some great vocals but the lyrical content is a true facepalm moment. 'Chunky' is much the same -great sonically, but the lyrics are just a bit too left-field, while the sentiment may not be the worst. The album ends on a far too bombastic note, as well - 'Too Good To Say Goodbye' has an 80s formula, but Mars refuses to stop belting by the end of the song, where it could really use a nice mix of falsetto in there. The song builds nicely, and while a bit cliché, it misses that punch and dynamic that could've made it a strong ending.
The album does have quite a bit of soul to its credit, though. 'That's What I Like' brings in some sensual vibes paired with his soulful timbre. 'Versace On The Floor' follows through with some pure soul vibes, instrumental et al. It screams 80s, complete with a synth solo. It's a sweeter track, falling in line with 'Calling All My Lovelies,' but does everything better. 'Calling' is much too slow and the odd Halle Berry sample is a bit off-putting. The strongest track on the record is 'Straight Up and Down,' which combines Mars' swagger and soul flawlessly and with purpose. The vocals are great while still maintaining a sweet mood, not being overly confronting and upfront like other tracks. This is the middle-ground this album should've sought out.
Bruno Mars' return to music is a bit too much. Many tracks are solid, but very few are standout tracks. 24K Magic a jumbled blend of swagger and soul and never holds on to the compromise between the two. Bruno Mars is back, though, and hopefully that means it won't be too long a wait until he progresses onto the next one.
Favorite Track: Straight Up and Down
Least Favorite Tracks: Calling All My Lovelies, Perm
Rating: 52 / 100