November 29, 2016 Bruno Mars – 24K Magic (Album Review)
Battling through letdowns and personal struggles, Southern California based Singer-Songwriter Bruno Mars (Peter Gene Hernandez) has come out on the other side of it all to become one of this generation’s most popular performing artists. From a young age, Mars followed in his entertainer parents’ footsteps performing five days a week with the family band, The Love Notes, and became known for his impersonation of Elvis Presley in his native Hawaii. Working hard, in 2004 Mars signed on with Motown Records, but sadly the career move did not pan out. Not a total loss, Mars met Producer Philip Lawrence, and in 2006, Lawrence introduced Mars to Atlantic Records A&R Manager Aaron Bay-Schuck. Proving you never know what connections will lead to in the future, within a few years, Mars was signed to Atlantic Records, and as they say, the rest is history.
Debuting in the spring of 2010 with the It’s Better If You Don’t Understand EP, by the fall of that same year, full-length Doo-Wops & Hooligans would go to top charts worldwide. Striking the iron while it was hot, two years later, Unorthodox Jukebox would see Mars’ sound and fan base grow to epic proportions. Still riding high off the album’s success, Mars has toured to arena sized crowds, and on November 18, 2016, returns with his third studio album, 24k Magic. Recorded with his band, The Hooligans – Philip Lawrence (backing vocals), Phredley Brown (backing vocals/ keyboard/guitar), Jamareo Artis (bass), Kameron Whalum (trombone), Dwayne Dugger (saxophone), James King (trumpet), John Fossitt (piano), and Eric Hernandez (drums) – 24K Magic sees Mars work with long-time Producers Bhasker and Emile Haynie (Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga) as well as additional collaboration from Shampoo Press & Curl and The Stereotypes.
A total of nine-tracks of slick Pop with major swag, it begins with “24K Magic.” The album’s lead single, released October 7th, it is a discoed-out song with confidence oozing out of every note and lyric Mars sings. Next, “Chunky” continues the retro vibe complete with ’70s organ accompaniment as Mars and crew extolling the virtues of the girls with meat. Moving on, “Perm” features a barbershop-esque sample lead-in, giving way to a James Brown feel. It has so much swagger, Brown himself would be jealous as Mars sings about chillin’ on the attitude and come relaxed.
Changing it up, “That’s What I Like” comes in with smoothness that calls back to ’90s R&B. Slowing the pace, “Versace on the Floor” is a sexy, sensual yang to “That’s What I Like’s” yin with its adult, mutual love. Keeping the pace with the ’80s/early ’90s R&B style, Shai’s “Baby I’m Yours” influenced “Straight Up & Down” begins where Mars seduces and leads the way to the bed. Keeping the sounds diverse, “Calling All My Lovelies” has that Doo-Wop feel wrapped around a modernized R&B beat as Mars falls back on his rebounds since his main chick is MIA. Then, the funk kicks in full effect on “Finesse,” a dance track as Mars and his girl dominate wherever they go. Finishing 24K Magic, “Too Good to Say Goodbye” turns to a more sensitive side as Mars channels his Babyface, pleading his girl to come back with a sweet melody that will bring on the tears.
Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic has all the swag it needs. It brings to mind the yin and yang of the childish haughtiness and the adult sensitivity and sensualness that come with being a guy, and being an adult guy with an insight to look past himself to please his girl. An exceptional step forward, CrypticRock gives 24K Magic 4.5 out of 5 stars.