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'An Evening with Silk Sonic' Indulges in a Contagious Funk-Soul Hybrid

After months of withholding the release of their album An Evening with Silk Sonic, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak finally released their duo album on November 12, providing their listeners with some light-hearted, sensual, funk-soul tunes. Their first single together “Leave the Door Open,” released in early March 2021, was a hit on the charts for months after its release, leaving many in anticipation of the full album. It is already a sensation on the radio, as would be expected of artists with names as big as Mars’ and .Paak’s, but the full album itself is polarizing for fans in its self-indulgence in repetitive sounds and lyrics. 

Mars and .Paak announced their collaboration in February, inciting excitement in fans to hear the harmonious but separate sounds of the two artists in tandem with one another. On top of the release of “Leave the Door Open,” they also released “Skate” over the summer which saw a similar response as the first single, though not with nearly the same success. Still, the artists continued to toy with their fans on their respective social media platforms, posting content of the two doing everything but releasing more music. But, after over eight months since its announcement, Silk Sonic has finally released their album. 

The nine-song album features Bootsy Collins with his deliciously velvety voice as a “special guest host,” as claimed on the album cover, in several intros and outros. It also features bassist Thundercat in the song “After Last Night.” Thundercat, who has worked with .Paak in the past as well as artists Mac Miller, Childish Gambino, Kali Uchis, and more, shines in the bass riffs throughout his feature. Though it is already a collaboration album, more features could have made the songs more dynamic and less repetitive.  

The album as a whole feels much more in line with the music of Mars than that of .Paak. The lyrics focus almost exclusively on the romantic and the sensual in a tone that is so over-the-top, it ends up flopping in its corniness, particularly in the songs “Fly as Me” and “After Last Night.” This aligns with Mars, but considering .Paak’s ability to delve into more thoughtful topics in his previous solo songs, it doesn’t feel natural to hear his raspy voice singing and rapping more cheesy lyrics.

Beyond the lyrics, the decadence of the layered instruments in explosive sounds also feels much more influenced by Mars than .Paak. Though it has more funk and soul to it, An Evening with Silk Sonic ultimately feels like an extension of “Uptown Funk” or “24K Magic,” which wasn’t what many fans were looking for in this album. 

Since Mars dominates in the flow of the album, it feels like more of a radio-friendly, family-oriented, wedding-reception-hit collection of music. That’s not necessarily a bad thing on its own, but considering .Paak's more lyrically powerful and sonically experimental music, more was expected of this album. Especially since one of .Paak’s most recent solo material included the political triumph “Lockdown,” released in June 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, it’s reasonable to ask for more complex themes in the lyrics of this album. 

Ultimately, these two artists are clearly having a fun time creating and putting forward this music together, so despite the repetitive sounds and air of corniness in lyrics, the fun the musicians are having eventually rubs off on its listeners. And that’s not a bad thing to indulge in. 

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Lover of goat cheese, the Coolidge Corner Theater, & songs with brass instruments