Given the immense popularity of Bruno Mars’ collaboration with Mark Ronson, Uptown Funk, it’s no surprise that Mars found himself drawing inspiration from it for his own work. Despite exploring funk in the past with his music, 24K Magic sees Mars embracing it for all it’s worth, ditching pop entirely in order to give more attention to the R&B. It’s a short album, and while it may not be the sweetest thing you’ll hear this year, it’s definitely got its fair share of astounding moments on it.
While the album’s early stages place the focus on the funk, its later two thirds focus much more on the simpler, less upbeat R&B style. The title track 24K Magic and Chunky lean closest to the Uptown Funk style, and open the album on a strong note; it’s a style that suits Mars particularly well, and he uses it to its full extent here. Starting from That’s What I Like, mid-tempos take the lead, highlighted by the mix of a piano ballad intro and upbeat synth arrangement on Versace On The Floor and the funk-R&B hybrid of Finesse. This section takes up the majority of the album, and presents the biggest problem with 24K Magic.
As a full-length collection of songs, 24K Magic ends up feeling like it drags, despite its half hour runtime. The songs all use an extremely static style, with the only real exceptions being the closing ballad Too Good to Say Goodbye and the more natural funk of Perm, which bookend the slower section of the album. While it’s nice to see the funk wasn’t spread across the album so much that it wore thin, it ultimately uses it to such a small degree that the album doesn’t draw your attention as much as it could.
Regardless of this fact, the songs on 24K Magic are all still listenable, and its short length is a blessing in that it doesn’t drag quite as much as it could have. Bruno Mars plays to his strengths on the album, and for most of its first half it comes across as a successful venture for him. Some more upbeat songs sprinkled through could have helped the album be more enjoyable in its entirety, but for the most part 24K Magic is a strong album from Bruno Mars.