Bruno Mars has sold over 100 million albums and singles over the course of his career. As well as being an artist in his own right, Mars has written songs as part of his production team The Smeezingtons and he’s responsible for some of the biggest hits in recent memory. His debut album Doo-Wops & Hooligans was released in 2010 and sold over 6 million copies, a feat his second album Unorthodox Machine matched after its 2012 release. Now Mars is back with his third album 24K Magic.
I was in the minority it would seem when it came to being disappointed with Unorthodox Jukebox. After bowling me over with Doo-Wops & Hooligans, I was underwhelmed with the midtempo feel of Mars’ follow-up album. When Mars announced the release of 24K Magic and premiered the single of the same name, I had a feeling of relief that Mars was back to his best. The song is an uptempo funky track filled with attitude that is catchy as hell. It also harked back to the good old 90s putting a different spin on Mars’ sound.
Despite being very short – 24K Magic is only 9 songs long and runs for just over 33 minutes – I consider 24K Magic to be a return to form for Mars. Unorthodox Jukebox had its moments but for me it wasn’t a cohesive or satisfying listen as a whole. 24K Magic is a concept album of sorts with Mars embracing the 90s for every track and creating a body of work that is best enjoyed in one listen.
Things kick off with the title track and it sets the tone for an upbeat party that is full of beats, grooves and funk. The energy stays high with 24K Magic moving neatly into the beat-driven Chunky, which features punchy R&B beats and a memorable melody. It’s clear from a few listens that the album is perfectly sequenced taking you on a journey from start to finish that you simply don’t want to get off.
Even the slower numbers are worthy of grooving to. That’s What I Like is a soaring slow-jam that brings to mind Jodeci at their best, Calling All My Lovelies is the booty call jam you never knew you wanted, and closing number Too Good To Say Goodbye is a powerful and moving love song that borrows from Motown. Versace on the Floor, which was released as a buzz track ahead of the album, features quite possibly Mars’ best vocal to date with his range and power evident from the opening moments.
There’s no doubt though that the high-energy moments are the best on 24K Magic. The funk-filled Perm, which pays homage to the late great James Brown, is a stand out as is the Bobby Brown-esque Finesse, which sounds like an updated take on New Edition. Mars injects so much energy and personality into these songs, that even though they recall other artists, they remain distinctly Bruno Mars.
24K Magic is a welcome return to form and dare I say it’s Mars’ best album yet. It could have done with being a bit longer but that quibble aside, it’s a rush ride of pure joy. For my money, Mars doesn’t put a foot wrong across 24K Magic and it’s an album that will be played to death over the coming months. If you want feel good and groovy, then Mars is your best option.
Track Listing: 1. 24K Magic 2. Chunky 3. Perm 4. That’s What I Like 5. Versace On The Floor 6. Straight Up & Down 7. Calling All My Lovelies 8. Finesse 9. Too Good To Say Goodbye Record Company: Atlantic Records Release Date: 18th November 2016