It cannot be denied that Bruno Mars has become one of the biggest artists in the world since gliding into everybody’s hearts with his 2010 debut album Doo Wops and Hooligans. With more Grammy Awards than fingers on his hands, the Hawaiian born superstar has had such a career that he would not look out of place on a Mount Rushmore of 21st Century pop artists. However, there is one certain Californian who is on his way to reaching, maybe even surpassing Mars in terms of their influence on the industry. Said Californian is Anderson. Paak, a man with a handful of Grammy’s for himself already, having revolutionised Hip-Hop over the last decade with his thought provoking, soul and funk infused take on the genre.
Silk Sonic is these two insanely talented icons coming together (after meeting and thinking up the idea when Anderson supported Mars’ 2017 2K Magic Tour) to form what may come to be seen as one of the best duos in music history, because their first album An Evening with Silk Sonic is nothing short of a masterpiece.
It is easy to see the pure chemistry Anderson and Mars have right away. After a musical theatre inspired 1 minute Intro track, where our ‘host’, Funkadelic legend Bootsy Collins (or ‘Bootzilla himself’), introduces us to the pair, we flow right into Leave the Door Open, where both men combine to create something beautiful. Starting off with Anderson’s raspy voice throwing us right back to the soul of the 60s, before Mars introduces himself with what might be his best vocal performance to date. This song captures the essence of the whole album, with its soothing instrumentation and extra smooth vocals being something common place throughout the record. With some humour thrown into the mix with lines like “I won’t bite/unless you like”, its so easy to see how naturally the two created every inch of this album, and it can be no surprise that this single reached Number 1 in the Charts upon its release back in March.
The funk grows as the record bursts into next track Fly as Me, where the two play off of their fame and success telling us they deserve to be with somebody as fly as them in a swaggering track, with a bassline that oozes just as much charisma and confidence as the lyrics. And if the record is in anyway the linear story that it can very easily be interpreted as, then they must have found somebody as fly as them, because After Last Night is a steamy song where, with the help of Bootsy Collins, Thundercat and some enthralling guitar riffs, the two express their admiration for girl they were with last night, in an R&B number that Marvin Gaye would be proud of.
In a throwback to Mars’ early work such as Grenade and When I was your Man, we also get a dose of heartbreak within the record, with songs Smokin’ out the Window and Put on a Smile. It is easy to see Mars’ familiarity with this type of song, as he excels here in making you really feel his pain, with his extraordinary vocal range being especially showcased in the latter of the aforementioned tracks.
The retro influences of the record are further displayed in 777 with a heavily funk powered guitar riff that bears a neat resemblance to Red Hot Chili Peppers 1999 track Fat Dance. This continues into standout track Skate with some beautiful strings playing throughout, giving it an upbeat feel that makes it impossible to not at least nod your head to. The immense attention to detail given to every second of every song is never more apparent than in closing track Blast Off, where, in the outro, we get melodies that are reminiscent of The Beach Boys as Mars mentions “good vibrations”, and the key of the music literally getting higher every time Mars asks, “Can we take it higher?”. It is these kind of tiny details that let you know the pair poured their heart and soul into this record.
An Evening with Silk Sonic is exactly what pop music needed, a throwback to the era of soul and funk, with a modern twist that can see the genre trend once again. The use of physical instruments, from bass guitars to glockenspiels, give the record a sense of authenticity that is quickly becoming lost in the electronic obsessed world of today’s music, and Mars and Anderson have undoubtedly proven their genius with this sensational homage to Black music past and present. It really is a modern-day classic already.