by Rachel Crowell
After much anticipation, Silk Sonic’s debut album An Evening With Silk Sonic is a funny and sexy blast into the past, bound to make any listener want to go out and dance underneath a glimmering disco ball. Performed by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, and Bootsy Collins, this album is a future classic sure to be featured on fans’ baby-maker, ‘70s nostalgia, or mood booster playlists. It successfully uses retro bass and synthesizers to create vintage music that still feels fresh and exciting. Every song fits perfectly into the album’s style and Silk Sonic’s themes of luxury and infatuation.
Pop star Mars, R&B singer .Paak, and funk icon Collins blend together beautifully on this project. The groupcame out with their first single “Leave the Door Open” about seven months ago, leaving millions of fans to wonder when the album will be released. It took over radio and social media, hitting number one on the charts the week of April 17 and once again in May. Unlike Anderson .Paak’s previous works Malibu and Oxnard, the album isn’t politically driven or introspective. Instead, the collaboration with Mars’ household name served as an excellent vessel for .Paak to gain more recognition in the music industry and on social media platforms like TikTok, giving him the opportunity to share his more meaningful work with a larger audience. .Paak’s verse on “Smokin out the Window” was catchy enough to become a viral soundbite: Influencers on TikTok dance to .Paak singing “not to be dramatic but I want to die / this bitch got me paying her rent…” in their outfits as fly as Silk Sonic.
Although the album gave .Paak a platform to stand on, Mars has gotten the most credit as the frontman of the project. The record fits well with the theme of Mars’ most recent project 24K Magic, released in 2016. Songs like “Straight Up & Down” and “Calling All My Lovelies” are extremely similar to “Leave the Door Open” and “After Last Night” in their smooth, sexy, seventies-esque melodies. Although Mars appears as the main frontman of the trio and his style is best reflected in the album, the three artists share the spotlight well.
Despite his seniority in the industry, Bootsy Collins fits in seamlessly alongside .Paak and Mars, with funky ad libs and instrumentation on the bass. Although it might seem strange for a seasoned veteran known for his funky bass to be part of a trio with two 30-year-olds, Collins has experience working with other young artists less established than Bruno Mars. In 2018 he created a song with long-time musical partners, Kali Uchis and Tyler, the Creator called “After the Storm.” He had a similar role, playing bass and performing ad libs to add groove alongside Uchis’ dreamy vocals. On An Evening With Silk Sonic, fellow bassist Thundercat joins Collins on “After Last Night” to produce arguably the project’s best track. The two bassists nail the melodies while Collins adds creative commentary at the beginning. Serving as the incredible host that he is, he introduces the track with the catchy line, “normally I don’t stutter, but you d-d-d-d-d-do it to me,” becoming a main character supported by his trusty back up singers, .Paak and Mars. Since the song dramatically stands out from the rest of the album, hearing more tracks where Collins takes control of the vocals would have been intriguing, but alas. On Spotify, Collins’ name is left out of most of the songs on the tracklist except for his featured song, “After Last Night.”
Although the album is extremely cohesive and masterfully constructed, it is not conceptually complex. The trio focuses on the glamour of casinos, roller rinks, discos, and water beds of the seventies rather than the more troubling topics that plagued society fifty years ago, like racism, sexism, and homophobia. Despite the lack of the depth, the album delivers what was expected: An infatuating and nostalgic piece of the art. Bruno Mars proved that he can still deliver addictive melodies to the masses after a five-year hiatus. He also built a platform for .Paak to show off his rap, funk, and R&B skills and let loose on more casual material. Collins also made his impact on a huge project like this by creating the name and serving as host. The album is bound to leave an impression on all of its listeners, letting jaded Baby Boomers feel young again and inspiring Gen Z-ers to thrift silk shirts and oversized studded sunglasses.