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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
Four years is a long time to take a break. For Bruno Mars, though, it was just what he needed. His first single in four years '24K Magic' sees a fresh new start for the pop's funkiest singer.
Massive success brings massive wealth, and that shows in the song. It's half self-obsessed and half excited: the song's literally about his 24-karat gold chain and having an extravagant party, but on the other hand it also says that the party is here and he's excited to be back in the game. The chorus proudly chants "Players only, come on / Put your pinky rings up to the moon / Girls, what y'all trying to do? / 24 karat magic in the air / Head to toe soul player / Uh, look out," showing the celebration and grandiose of this party we're welcomed to.
The upfront nature and hype-up vibes of the lyrics is backed by the very 90s instrumental. The whole song's a party! Packed with fat basslines and bright synths, the instrumental makes the song feel bigger than the lyrics do. Slowly building bass synths give the song a taste of modernism while still fleshing out the 90s feel. It's a departure from Unorthodox Jukebox in the sense that its emphasis is geared on the vibe rather than the meaning. Mars was always a truly funky man, and '24K Magic' takes it even further.
The music video gives the song an appropriate visualization. The song's music video features Mars and his crew partying throughout Las Vegas, hitting up casinos and grand parties. The video's pretty straightforward, grandiose imagery of the Vegas party scene paired with dancing and butts capture the song's vibe perfectly.
Bruno Mars is back. It's real and its strong, and it's ready to tear up the music scene. 2017 is going to be a big year for Mars if '24K Magic' is any signal. It's the title track of his upcoming album 24K Magic, out on November 18. Don't miss it! We'll have our review out on it when it comes. Until then, we'll be partying to this track.
Rating: 82 / 100