Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars reintroduce Motown with ‘An Evening With Silk Sonic’

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Silk Sonic have released their collaborative project ‘An Evening With Silk Sonic’. 

Anderson .Paak’s and Bruno Mars’ chance meeting on the latter’s 2017 24K Magic world tour made for one of the most anticipated collaborations of the 21st century in the form of Silk Sonic. ‘An Evening With Silk Sonic’ was announced by the pair on 26 February earlier this year, and we were subsequently blessed with the record’s lead single, ‘Leave The Door Open’, soon after in March, generating .Paak’s first number one in the United States.

With a similar count-in to the intro, this track is brimming with confidence

‘An Evening With Silk Sonic’ is the manifestation of unparalleled swagger. This, of course, is no surprise when two of the coolest stars in the industry collaborate on an R&B and Motown record. This album exudes confidence; .Paak’s broad percussion and Mars’ ‘silky’ vocals make for a positively refreshing exhibition of skill. Talking to New Zealand radio DJ Zane Lowe for Apple Music 1, Mars says most of the album is “rooted in [.Paak’s] drum beats” and that his music is “derived from old-school Motown influence”. Inspired by artists like Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, James Brown and more, this album is a great modernisation of the older generation’s music, but now much more accessible.

The much-anticipated album starts with the vintage R&B ‘Silk Sonic Intro’, where Mars and .Paak’s confidence shines through. Beginning with an acapella count to four and the percussive harmonic “who y’all came to see tonight?”, along with a spoken word feature by funk icon Bootsy Collins, it makes for a very promising precursor for our evening with Silk Sonic.

This precursor exceeds expectations with ‘Leave The Door Open’, the tantalising lead single released back in March. The most critically acclaimed track on the album, ‘Leave The Door Open’ would be either of the respective artists’ magnum opus if it were a solo project, yet Mars and .Paak’s weaving of individual talent brings this love song to new heights.

With a similar count-in to the intro, this track is brimming with confidence. A fantastic drumline accompanies a crescendo bass, seeming to take us back to the 70s, with its rounded groove’s ability to lend itself to the intro of ‘Starsky and Hutch’. The chorus displays a magnetising hubris, in both its lyrics and sound. Listening to this walking into town, you will emanate confidence similar to what you’d feel hearing Arctic Monkeys’ classic track ‘Do I Wanna Know?’.

Even with all the praise given to ‘Fly As Me’‘s  bassline, the thundering bass in ‘After Last Night’ leaves it in the dust. Most notable for his song ‘Them Changes’, Thundercat introduces his virtuosity on the bass to this track, weaving in his funk roots and filling any gaps in Mars and .Paak’s contributions – strengthening this song as a tour de force.

Bruno Mars’ zeal in ‘Smokin Out The Window’ has made it an extremely attractive song, even spurring its use as a popular trend on TikTok. This track in particular beautifully showcases both .Paak and Mars, with their pairing being reminiscent of Boys II Men, though with more conviction and grit, as well as their modernised lyrics. The music video also perfectly shows off the duo’s swagger and nonchalance, a respectable take on the 70s atmosphere.

‘Put On A Smile’ subverts our expectations with its change of pace in being a sad love ballad, where the duo don’t want to portray themselves as players. This juxtaposition to the usual confidence is refreshing and also exemplifies .Paak and Mars’ down-to-earth traits.

‘777’ begins with a muted instrumental – definitely an Anderson .Paak stylistic choice, on a song that is teeming with his fast-paced and concise flow. There are also hints of welcomed rock influences. This leads into ‘Skate’, the second single of of the album. Harnessing sounds associated with Christmas, this song proves that Silk Sonic have catered to every audience (as well as it being an incredibly catchy tune!).

With quite the contrast to the rest of the songs, ‘Blast Off’, looks at the 70s from a different perspective and is a journey through the high of psychedelic drugs. Although it could be considered a somewhat taboo topic, .Paak and Mars not shying away from psychedelics shows not only their confidence but also their longing for an authentic, 70s-feeling record – truly honest and admirable.

Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars’ ‘An Evening With Silk Sonic’ is an absolute time bomb, with their paired skills sounding like a 1970’s gloss over modern R&B – a brilliant, mainstream reintroduction to the scarce genre of Motown. The much-anticipated record has undoubtedly lived up to the hype, simultaneously widening Anderson .Paak’s fanbase by introducing him to Bruno Mars, as well as cementing the latter’s legendary status – the de facto pop king of the 21st century thus far.