On Record: “An Evening With Silk Sonic” review

Aubrey Smith, A&C Editor

Ever since their first single together dropped in March, the world has quite literally been leaving the door open for the collaboration album between Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak

The tune, sweet and seductive, swept us off of our feet with the dazzling vocals and throwback R&B feel. “Leave The Door Open” topped charts and set expectations high. Lucky for us, Mars and Paak’s reinstatement of the ’70s would only continue in “An Evening With Silk Sonic.” 

The record couldn’t be more aptly named. Mars and Paak both possess incredible talent for making intimate, unforgettable music. With a touch of “24K Magic,” vintage color palettes, roller skates, luxurious production sets and brown velvet suits, Silk Sonic pays tribute and takes us back to the ’70s. 

The duo rolls out the red carpet on “Silk Sonic Intro.” In preparation for the evening, Mars and Paak come in on a clapping introduction with brass, steady drums and a groovy bass underneath. Frontrunner of funk Bootsy Collins introduces Silk Sonic at the end of the track and proudly takes credit for the duo’s name. Collins is introduced as the evening’s “special guest” and makes many appearances throughout the record, something that shapes together the whole album.

“Fly Like Me” is a fun track that kicks off with a vamping bass riff and crescendoing brass. Paak’s quick-hitting lines in the verses paired with the wah-wah instrumentals are the real highlight of the song, as the verses aren’t met with much in the chorus, and the track doesn’t really go anywhere. 

“After Last Night” is the real shining star of the record. The track opens up as a voice reminisces: “Damn, I don’t even know who I was last night.” The song then picks up into motion, and Collins’ continuous voiceovers send the song back in time, and bass guitarist Thundercat hops in on the action as well. Whereas it’s more obvious in other songs when Mars and Paak switch off on the mic, this track is incredibly cohesive, and the duo’s vocals melt together smoothly. 

Just over four minutes, the track is a timeless recollection of the night before the morning after — a story told a million times before. Yet Silk Sonic paints the story with a more luxurious and dazzling sense of longing. It’s hard to listen to this song and feel like Mars and Paak aren’t singing directly to you alone. 

Silk Sonic takes a slight comedic approach on “Smokin Out The Window.” We learn that our stars have just realized their girl is not just their girl. Better stated by Mars in the chorus, “I thought that girl belonged to only me (Mmm) / But I was wrong / ‘Cause she belong / To everybody, everybody.” The third single, released just a week before the album, is another high point on the record with its catchy and witty lyrics. 

Mars and Paak sing out their sorrow on “Put On A Smile.” Tired of the player lifestyle and putting up a front, the duo, as instructed by Collins at the beginning of the track, tells their girl how they really feel. It’s quite a beautiful song, though it doesn’t stand out as much as other tracks on the album. It’s awkwardly sandwiched between some of the best songs on the record like “After Last Night” and “Smokin Out The Window,” and some of the least admirable like “777,” which leads to the track to somewhat stand in the shadows. 

Kicking off the next track with a repeating guitar riff, “777” is an electrifying Vegas anthem. The build up to the chorus doesn’t pay off as much as anticipated, and the verses end up being the most exciting parts of the track. The high energy is exciting, but it’s harder to digest after hearing the more thoroughly composed and memorable “After Last Night” and “Smokin Out The Window.” 

Released back in July as the second single in anticipation for the record, “Skate” is a lovable summer anthem. Orchestral and playful, it’s almost impossible to listen to this song sitting still with the light electric guitar, congas courtesy of Mars and breezy lyrics. You’ll want to hop on the roller rink as Mars and Paak encourage, “don’t be shy, just take my hand and hold on tight.”

Though it feels like the show has just started, it’s almost time for the curtain to close as the last four minutes of the record ascend on “Blast Off.” The track is much more psychedelic — in lyrical themes and in instrumentation — than the others, and it’s fittingly a song with out of this world elements. Whirling strings, a grand piano and an intoxicating guitar solo carry the track into oblivion as Collins closes out the record with “love from up above.”

Within the first 30 seconds of the record, Silk Sonic promises to “lock this groove in tight,” and they don’t let that commitment fade. The record truly does feel like more of an experience — an evening if you will — than a contained album. It does leave listeners longing for more than nine tracks, especially since those nine hardly vary in instrumentation. Regardless, there’s no doubt the talent and capabilities Mars and Paak hold as a duo. We can only hope that “An Evening With Silk Sonic” is just the beginning and that Silk Sonic will come back down to Earth with new music soon.